Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are houses that have gone through foreclosure and are now owned by the bank or mortgage company. 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 accumulated during the foreclosure process. You must also be able to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll accept the property completely as is. That could consist of existing liens and even current residents that may require removal.

A REO, on the other hand, is a much cleaner and attractive option. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The lender will see 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. Do be aware that REOs may be exempt from typical disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that normally requires sellers to disclose any defects they are knowledgeable of.

Are REO's a bargain in Victorville?

It's commonly though that any REO must be a steal and an possibility for easy money. This isn't always true. You have to be very careful 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 quickly, 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. The bargains with money making potential exist, and many people do very well buying foreclosures. But there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.

Prepared to make an offer?

Most banks 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. 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 receiving 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 hidden damage and retract 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 made 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 submit another counter offer. Understand, you'll be dealing with a process that most likely 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.