Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO is Real Estate Owned. These are properties which have gone through foreclosure and are now held by the bank or mortgage company. This is different than real estate up for foreclosure auction. If you buy a property during a foreclosure sale, you must pay at least the loan balance plus any interest and other fees accumulated during the foreclosure process. You must also be able to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll get the property completely as is. That possibly will comprise existing liens and even current tenants that may require eviction.

A REO, conversely, is a much neater and attractive transaction. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The lender now owns it. The lender will handle the removal of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally arrange for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Note that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that typically requires sellers to tell you about any defects of which they are informed.

Are REO's a bargain in Burlington?

It is sometimes presume that any REO must be a steal and an opportunity for easy money. This just isn't true. You have to be very careful about buying a REO if your intent is make a profit. While it's true that the bank is often anxious to sell it promptly, they are also strongly motivated to get as much as they can for it. When considering the value of a REO, you need to look closely at comparable sales in the neighborhood and be sure to take into account the time and cost of any repairs or remodeling needed to prepare the house for resale. The bargains with money making potential exist, and many people do very well flipping foreclosures. But there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.

Prepared to make an offer?

Most lenders have a REO department that you'll work with while buying a REO property from them. Typically the REO department will use a listing agent to get their REO properties listed on the local MLS. Prior to making your offer, you'll want to contact either the listing agent or REO department at the bank and learn as much as you can about what they know regarding the condition of the property and what their process is for getting offers. Since banks usually sell REO properties "as is", you may want to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for unseen damage and retract the offer if you find it.

As with making any offer on real estate, your offer may be more attractive if you can include documentation of your ability to pay, such as a pre-approval letter from a lender. Once you've made your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. Then it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Realize, you'll be dealing with a process that usually involves a group of people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's not uncommon for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.

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