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What is an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are properties which have been through foreclosure and are presently held by the bank or mortgage company. This is not the same as a property 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. You must also be willing to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll receive the property totally as is. That may comprise standing liens and even current tenants that may require removal.

A REO, by contrast, is a more tidy and attractive option. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The lender will deal with 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. Note that REOs may be exempt from typical disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that normally requires sellers to disclose any defects of which they are informed.

Is an REO in Virginia Beach a bargain?

It is sometimes believed that any REO must be a good buy and an opportunity for easy money. This simply isn't 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 typically anxious to sell it promptly, they are also strongly encouraged 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 and selling foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.

Time to make an offer?

Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with when buying a REO property from them. Commonly 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 discover as much as you can about what they know concerning the condition of the property and what their process is for taking offers. Since banks typically 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 retract 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. From there it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Realize, you'll be working with a process that generally involves multiple people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's not unusual for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.

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