Buying a REO or foreclosure in Winston-Salem

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are homes that have been through foreclosure and are presently possessed 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. You must also be prepared to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll receive the property one-hundred percent as is. That possibly will comprise standing liens and even current tenants that need to be put out.

A REO, on the contrary, is a much cleaner and attractive proposition. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The bank 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. You should be aware that REOs may be exempt from typical disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that normally requires sellers to disclose any defects they are informed of.

Are REO's a bargain in Winston-Salem?

It is commonly presume that any REO must be a good deal 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 profit from the sell. While it's true that the bank is often anxious to sell it soon, they are also strongly motivated 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 flipping foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

Time to make an offer?

Most lenders 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. 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 concerning the condition of the property and what their process is for taking offers. Since banks almost always sell REO properties "as is", you may want to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for hidden damage and terminate 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 submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. Then 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 contending with a process that most likely involves several 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.