Buying a foreclosure or REO property in
What is an REO?
REO is Real Estate Owned. These are houses that have completed the foreclosure process which the bank or mortage company presently possesses. This is not the same as a property 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. You must also be prepared to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll receive the property totally as is. That possibly will consist of prevailing liens and even current residents that need to be removed.
A REO, by contrast, is a much neater and attractive proposition. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The lender will take care of the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally organize 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 ordinarily requires sellers to tell you about any defects they are informed of.
Is an REO in Colorado Springs a bargain?
It's occasionally assumed that any REO must be a bargain and an opportunity for easy money. This isn't always 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 fast, 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. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and not likely to turn a profit.
Ready to make an offer?
Most mortgage companies have a REO department that you'll work with when 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. Prior to 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 accepting offers. Since banks typically 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 hidden 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 submitted 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 dealing with a process that probably 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.