Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What is an REO?

REO stands for Real Estate Owned. These are properties that have completed the foreclosure process and are now held by the bank or mortgage company. This is different than 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 accrued during the foreclosure process. You must also be able to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll receive the property completely as is. That possibly will consist of prevailing liens and even current denizens that need to be expelled.

A REO, on the contrary, is a more tidy and attractive proposition. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The bank will deal with the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally prepare for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Take notice that REOs may be exempt from normal disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that typically requires sellers to tell you about any defects of which they are informed.

Is an REO in Lawton a bargain?

It's sometimes believed that any REO must be a good buy and an chance for easy money. This usually 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 often anxious to sell it fast, they are also strongly motivated 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. However there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

Ready to make an offer?

Most lenders have a REO department that you'll work with while buying a REO property from them. Normally 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 discover 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 most commonly 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 unseen 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. After you've submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. At this point it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Realize, you'll be dealing with a process that usually involves several 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.