Buying a REO or foreclosure in Winston-Salem

What's an REO?

REO stands for Real Estate Owned. These are homes which have been through foreclosure which the bank or mortage company currently holds. 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. To top everything off, you'll accept the property entirely as is. That could consist of standing liens and even current denizens that need to be evicted.

A REO, on the contrary, is a much neater and attractive deal. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The lender will deal with the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally arrange for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Note that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that ordinarily requires sellers to tell you about any defects of which they are aware.

Are REO's a bargain in Winston-Salem?

It is commonly believed that any REO must be a good deal and an chance for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be very careful about buying a REO if your intent is make a profit. While it's true that the bank is often anxious to sell it quickly, they are also strongly interested 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. But there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

All set to make an offer?

Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with while 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 learn 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 usually 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 terminate the offer if you find it.

As with making any offer on real estate, you'll make your offer 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 respond with a counter offer. Then it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Understand, you'll be contending with a process that probably 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.