Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are houses which have been through foreclosure which the bank or mortage company now possesses. This is different than 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 accumulated during the foreclosure process. You must also be ready to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll get the property entirely as is. That may comprise prevailing liens and even current residents that may require removal.

A REO, on the other hand, is a much cleaner and attractive deal. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The bank 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. Take notice that REOs may be exempt from typical disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks do not have to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that normally requires sellers to reveal any defects of which they are knowledgeable.

Are REO's a bargain in Austin?

It's frequently though 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 money. 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. The bargains with money making potential exist, and many people do very well buying and selling 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 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. 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 usually 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, 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 presented your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. Then it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Realize, you'll be contending 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.

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