Buying a REO or foreclosure in Greenville

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are properties that have been through foreclosure and are currently possessed by the bank or mortgage company. This is unlike real estate 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 added during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be ready to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll accept the property entirely as is. That possibly could comprise prevailing liens and even current tenants that need to be put out.

A REO, by contrast, is a more tidy and attractive option. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The lender now owns it. The lender will attend 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. Note 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 disclose any defects they are informed of.

Are REO's a bargain in Greenville?

It's frequently assumed that any REO must be a good deal and an opportunity for easy money. This just isn't true. You have to be cautious about buying a REO if your intent is profit from the sell. While it's true that the bank is usually anxious to sell it quickly, 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 foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

Prepared to make an offer?

Most lenders have a REO department that you'll work with when buying a REO property from them. Usually 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 find out as much as you can about what they know regarding the condition of the property and what their process is for accepting offers. Since banks most commonly 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 withdraw 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 presented your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. From there it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Be aware, you'll be dealing with a process that usually involves a group of people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's not unusual for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.

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