Buying a REO or foreclosure in Winston-Salem

What is an REO?

REO is short for Real Estate Owned. These are properties that have been foreclosed upon which the bank or mortage company now owns. This differs from 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. You must also be able to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll receive the property entirely as is. That possibly will consist of standing liens and even current residents that need to be removed.

A REO, on the contrary, is a more tidy and attractive proposition. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The lender will handle the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally organize for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Take notice that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that ordinarily requires sellers to make known any defects they are aware of.

Is an REO in Winston-Salem a bargain?

It's occasionally believed that any REO must be a good buy and an chance for easy money. This simply isn't true. You have to be cautious about buying a REO if your intent is make money. While it's true that the bank is usually anxious to sell it soon, 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. The bargains with money making potential exist, and many people do very well buying and selling foreclosures. But there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.

All set to make an offer?

Most mortgage companies 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 about the condition of the property and what their process is for taking offers. Since banks almost always 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 hidden 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 submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to counter offer. From there it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Understand, you'll be working with a process that probably involves several 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.