Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are houses which have completed the foreclosure process which the bank or mortage company now possesses. This differs from real estate 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 accrued during the foreclosure process. You must also be able to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll get the property one-hundred percent as is. That possibly could comprise existing liens and even current residents that may require eviction.

A REO, conversely, is a much neater and attractive option. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The lender now owns it. The lender will attend to 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. Note that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that normally requires sellers to tell you about any defects of which they are aware.

Is an REO in San Diego a bargain?

It's frequently assumed that any REO must be a bargain and an chance for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be prudent about buying a REO if your intent is make a profit. While it's true that the bank is usually anxious to sell it promptly, 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 lose money.

Prepared to make an offer?

Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with in 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 find out as much as you can about what they know about the condition of the property and what their process is for getting 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 unknown 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. Once you've submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. At this point it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Understand, you'll be dealing with a process that most likely involves several 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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