Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO is Real Estate Owned. These are homes which have completed the foreclosure process which the bank or mortage company currently possesses. 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 accrued during the foreclosure process. You must also be ready to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll receive the property one-hundred percent as is. That possibly may consist of current liens and even current occupants that need to be kicked out.

A REO, conversely, is a much neater and attractive deal. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The bank now owns it. The bank will handle the removal of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally arrange for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Do be aware that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that usually requires sellers to tell you about any defects they are aware of.

Is an REO in Delray Beach a bargain?

It is occasionally presume that any REO must be a bargain and an opportunity for easy money. This isn't necessarily 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 fast, 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 foreclosures. However there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.

Time to make an offer?

Most lenders have a REO department that you'll work with in buying a REO property from them. Typically 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 learn as much as you can about what they know concerning the condition of the property and what their process is for taking 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 terminate 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. From there it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Realize, you'll be working with a process that most likely 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.