Looking for a foreclosure or REO property in ?

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are homes which have gone through foreclosure which the bank or mortage company now holds. This differs from 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 added during the foreclosure process. You must also be willing to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll accept the property completely as is. That possibly will comprise standing liens and even current residents that may require expulsion.

A REO, on the contrary, is a much neater and attractive transaction. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The lender will see to the removal of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally prepare for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Note that REOs may be exempt from typical disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks do not have to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that typically requires sellers to make known any defects of which they are aware.

Are REO's a bargain in Austin?

It is frequently assumed that any REO must be a bargain and an opportunity for easy money. This simply isn't true. You have to be very careful about buying a REO if your intent is make money. 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. There are bargains with potential to make money, and many people do very well buying foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and not likely to turn a profit.

Prepared to make an offer?

Most lenders 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. Before 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 most commonly 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 unknown 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 make a counter offer. From there it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Realize, you'll be contending with a process that generally involves multiple 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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