Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO is an abbreviation for Real Estate Owned. These are houses that have been foreclosed upon which the bank or mortage company currently owns. This differs from 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 added during the foreclosure process. You must also be ready to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll get the property totally as is. That possibly may include current liens and even current denizens that need to be put out.

A REO, on the contrary, is a much cleaner and attractive deal. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The lender will see to the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally prepare for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Take notice that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that typically requires sellers to disclose any defects of which they are informed.

Is an REO in Austin a bargain?

It's frequently believed that any REO must be a bargain and an chance for easy money. This isn't always true. You have to be prudent about buying a REO if your intent is make a profit. While it's true that the bank is usually anxious to sell it fast, 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 flipping foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and not likely to turn a profit.

All set to make an offer?

Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with in buying a REO property from them. Commonly 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 find out as much as you can about what they know concerning the condition of the property and what their process is for taking offers. Since banks typically sell REO properties "as is", you'll want to be sure and include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for unseen damage and withdraw 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. After you've submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to counter offer. From there it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Realize, you'll be working with a process that probably involves a group of 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.


Issac W. Harper Real Estate Broker/RealtorĀ©

P.O. Box 143683
Austin, TX 78714-3683