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Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What is an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are properties that have completed the foreclosure process and are presently owned by the bank or mortgage company. This is not the same as real estate 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 prepared to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll accept the property completely as is. That might comprise current liens and even current tenants that need to be kicked out.

A REO, on the contrary, is a more tidy and attractive deal. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The lender will attend 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. Note 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 typically requires sellers to tell you about any defects they are informed of.

Is an REO in Delray Beach a bargain?

It is sometimes presume that any REO must be a good deal and an possibility for easy money. This simply isn't true. You have to be very careful about buying a REO if your intent is make a profit. While it's true that the bank is typically anxious to sell it quickly, they are also strongly interested 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 flipping foreclosures. But 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. 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 concerning the condition of the property and what their process is for receiving offers. Since banks almost always sell REO properties "as is", you may want to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for hidden damage and cancel 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 made your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. Then it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Understand, you'll be dealing with a process that probably involves a group of people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's quite common for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.

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