Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What is an REO?

REO is Real Estate Owned. These are homes that have been foreclosed upon which the bank or mortage company currently possesses. This is different than 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 accumulated during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be willing to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll accept the property totally as is. That could comprise current liens and even current residents that may require eviction.

A REO, on the other hand, is a much neater and attractive option. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The lender will attend to the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally plan for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Note that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that usually requires sellers to tell you about any defects of which they are aware.

Are REO's a bargain in Lawton?

It is commonly believed that any REO must be a bargain and an opportunity for easy money. This isn't always 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 fast, 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 flipping foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.

All set to make an offer?

Most mortgage companies 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 regarding the condition of the property and what their process is for taking offers. Since banks almost always 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 withdraw 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. After you've submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. From there 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 usually involves a group of people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's not uncommon for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.