Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO is an abbreviation for Real Estate Owned. These are properties which have been through foreclosure and are now owned by the bank or mortgage company. This is not the same as 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 added during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be prepared to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll accept the property one-hundred percent as is. That may include prevailing liens and even current tenants that may require expulsion.

A REO, on the other hand, is a much cleaner and attractive option. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The lender now owns it. The bank will attend to 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. You should be aware that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that ordinarily requires sellers to make known any defects they are informed of.

Are REO's a bargain in Austin?

It's sometimes though that any REO must be a bargain and an opportunity 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 interested 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. It is possible to find REOs with money-making potential, and many people do very well flipping foreclosures. However there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.

All set 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. Prior to making your offer, you'll want to contact either the listing agent or REO department at the bank and learn as much as you can about what they know about 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 hidden damage and withdraw the offer if you find it.

As with making any offer on real estate, you'll make your offer more attractive if you can include documentation of your ability to pay, such as a pre-approval letter from a lender. Once you've submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. From there it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Understand, you'll be working with a process that generally 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.

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