Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are houses which have completed the foreclosure process and are currently owned by the bank or mortgage company. This differs from 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 accumulated during the foreclosure process. You must also be prepared to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll receive the property one-hundred percent as is. That possibly could comprise current liens and even current denizens that need to be thrown out.

A REO, conversely, is a much neater and attractive transaction. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The lender now owns it. The lender will deal with 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. Note 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 usually requires sellers to make known any defects of which they are aware.

Is an REO in Jupiter a bargain?

It's occasionally assumed that any REO must be a good deal and an opportunity for easy money. This just isn't 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 soon, they are also strongly encouraged to get as much as they can for it. When pondering 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. It is possible to find REOs with money-making potential, and many people do very well buying and selling foreclosures. However there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

Ready to make an offer?

Most lenders have a REO department that you'll work with while buying a REO property from them. Usually 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 about the condition of the property and what their process is for accepting offers. Since banks almost always sell REO properties "as is", it may be in your best interest 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. After you've presented your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. At this point it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Be aware, you'll be contending with a process that usually involves multiple people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's typical for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.

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Carole Maddox

Broker Associate at My Florida Realty LLC

10144 West Indiantown Road
Jupiter, FL 33478