Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are houses which have been foreclosed upon which the bank or mortage company presently owns. This is not the same as a property 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 accrued during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be prepared to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll get the property entirely as is. That possibly could consist of current liens and even current tenants that need to be removed.

A REO, on the other hand, is a much neater and attractive option. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The bank will handle the removal 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 normal disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks do not have to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that usually requires sellers to tell you about any defects they are informed of.

Are REO's a bargain in Covina?

It is occasionally assumed that any REO must be a good buy and an chance for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be cautious about buying a REO if your intent is profit from the sell. While it's true that the bank is typically anxious to sell it promptly, they are also strongly encouraged 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. But there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

Time to make an offer?

Most mortgage companies have a REO department that you'll work with while 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. Prior to making your offer, you'll want to contact either the listing agent or REO department at the bank and discover as much as you can about what they know concerning the condition of the property and what their process is for accepting offers. Since banks usually sell REO properties "as is", it's often prudent to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for unknown damage and cancel 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 presented your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. Then it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or submit another 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.