Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are properties which have been foreclosed upon and are now held by the bank or mortgage company. 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 amassed during the foreclosure process. You must also be able to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll accept the property completely as is. That may consist of standing liens and even current occupants that need to be kicked out.

A REO, by contrast, is a more tidy and attractive option. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The lender now owns it. The lender will handle 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. You should be aware that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, banks do not have to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that ordinarily requires sellers to make known any defects they are aware of.

Are REO's a bargain in Cary?

It is occasionally assumed that any REO must be a good buy and an possibility for easy money. This usually isn't true. You have to be cautious about buying a REO if your intent is make money. While it's true that the bank is often anxious to sell it fast, they are also strongly motivated 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. The bargains with money making potential exist, and many people do very well flipping foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.

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 learn as much as you can about what they know about the condition of the property and what their process is for accepting 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 hidden damage and withdraw 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. Once you've presented your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. Then it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Realize, you'll be working with a process that usually involves multiple 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.

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