What is an REO?
REO's or Real Estate Owned are properties that have been through foreclosure and are now owned by the bank or mortgage company. This is not the same as 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 amassed during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be able to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll get the property completely as is. That possibly may consist of prevailing liens and even current tenants that need to be put out.
A REO, on the contrary, is a much cleaner and attractive option. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The lender now owns it. The lender will deal with 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. Do be aware that REOs may be exempt from typical disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that usually requires sellers to disclose any defects of which they are knowledgeable.
Is an REO in Las Vegas a bargain?
It's frequently though that any REO must be a steal 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 usually anxious to sell it promptly, 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 buying foreclosures. But there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.
Time to make an offer?
Most lenders have a REO department that you'll work with in 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 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's often prudent to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for unseen damage and cancel 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 presented your offer, you can expect the bank to counter offer. At this point it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Realize, you'll be contending with a process that generally 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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