Buying a foreclosure or REO property in
What is an REO?
REO means Real Estate Owned. These are houses which have gone through foreclosure and are now possessed by the bank or mortgage company. This is unlike a property up for foreclosure auction. When buying 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. The buyer must also be prepared to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll get the property totally as is. That possibly could consist of existing liens and even current residents that may require eviction.
A REO, on the contrary, is a more tidy and attractive transaction. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The bank will take care of the removal of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally plan for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Take notice that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that typically requires sellers to reveal any defects they are knowledgeable of.
Are REO's a bargain in Austin?
It is commonly assumed that any REO must be a good deal and an possibility for easy money. This simply isn't true. You have to be cautious about buying a REO if your intent is to make money off of it. While it's true that the bank is often anxious to sell it quickly, they are also strongly motivated to get as much as they can for it. When contemplating 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. There are bargains with potential to make money, and many people do very well buying foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.
All set to make an offer?
Most mortgage companies have a REO department that you'll work with in buying a REO property from them. Normally the REO department will use a listing agent to get their REO properties listed on the local MLS. Before making your offer, you'll want to contact either the listing agent or REO department at the bank and find out as much as you can about what they know regarding the condition of the property and what their process is for accepting offers. Since banks most commonly 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 terminate the offer if you find it.
As with making any offer on real estate, providing documentation of your ability to pay may make your offer more attractive, such as a pre-approval letter from a lender. Once you've made your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. At this point it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Be aware, you'll be dealing with a process that most likely involves multiple people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's not unusual for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.