Buying a REO or foreclosure in Fort Walton Beach

What is an REO?

REO stands for Real Estate Owned. These are properties that have completed the foreclosure process and are presently possessed by the bank or mortgage company. This is unlike a property 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. The buyer must also be prepared to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll get the property totally as is. That possibly will comprise existing liens and even current tenants that may require removal.

A REO, by contrast, is a much cleaner and attractive option. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The lender will deal with 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. You should be aware 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 normally requires sellers to disclose any defects they are knowledgeable of.

Are REO's a bargain in Fort Walton Beach?

It is commonly believed that any REO must be a steal and an opportunity for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be cautious about buying a REO if your intent is make money. While it's true that the bank is typically anxious to sell it promptly, they are also strongly interested 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. The bargains with money making potential exist, 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.

All set to make an offer?

Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with when 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 find out 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 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 unknown damage and terminate 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. Once you've submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to counter offer. At this point 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 dealing with a process that most likely involves multiple 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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