Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO means Real Estate Owned. These are homes which have gone through foreclosure which the bank or mortage company currently owns. This is different than real estate 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 amassed during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be ready to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll accept the property one-hundred percent as is. That could include prevailing liens and even current tenants that need to be put out.

A REO, conversely, is a more tidy and attractive deal. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The bank now owns it. The bank will deal with the elimination 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 normal disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that typically requires sellers to tell you about any defects they are aware of.

Is an REO in Lenox a bargain?

It's frequently presume that any REO must be a bargain and an possibility for easy money. This usually 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 typically anxious to sell it fast, they are also strongly interested 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. It is possible to find REOs with money-making potential, and many people do very well buying foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

Prepared to make an offer?

Most lenders have a REO department that you'll work with when 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 regarding the condition of the property and what their process is for getting offers. Since banks usually 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 cancel 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. After you've submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to counter offer. At this point it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Realize, you'll be dealing with a process that usually involves several people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's quite common for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.

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