Looking for a foreclosure or REO property in ?
What is an REO?
REO's or Real Estate Owned are homes which have completed the foreclosure process and are now held by the bank or mortgage company. This is unlike 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 accrued during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be able to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll accept the property completely as is. That possibly will include standing liens and even current denizens that need to be put out.
A REO, by contrast, is a much neater and attractive deal. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The bank will see to the removal of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally arrange 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 ordinarily requires sellers to reveal any defects they are knowledgeable of.
Are REO's a bargain in Atlanta?
It is occasionally believed that any REO must be a steal and an possibility for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be very careful about buying a REO if your intent is profit from the sell. While it's true that the bank is often anxious to sell it promptly, they are also strongly encouraged 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. It is possible to find REOs with money-making potential, and many people do very well buying and selling 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 banks have a REO department that you'll work with in buying a REO property from them. Typically 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 learn as much as you can about what they know about the condition of the property and what their process is for receiving offers. Since banks typically sell REO properties "as is", you'll want to be sure and 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, providing documentation of your ability to pay may make your offer more attractive, such as a pre-approval letter from a lender. After you've made your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. From there it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Be aware, you'll be dealing with a process that generally involves a group of 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.