Buying a REO or foreclosure in Tampa
What is an REO?
REO's or Real Estate Owned are homes which have completed the foreclosure process which the bank or mortage company now holds. 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 accrued during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be able to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll accept the property totally as is. That possibly could comprise existing liens and even current occupants that need to be evicted.
A REO, by contrast, is a much cleaner and attractive proposition. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The lender now owns it. The lender will see 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. Take notice that REOs may be exempt from normal disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that ordinarily requires sellers to reveal any defects of which they are aware.
Is an REO in Tampa a bargain?
It is sometimes assumed that any REO must be a steal and an possibility for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be very careful about buying a REO if your intent is make money. While it's true that the bank is usually anxious to sell it promptly, they are also strongly motivated to get as much as they can for it. When contemplating 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. There are bargains with potential to make money, and many people do very well buying foreclosures. However there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.
Ready 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. 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 about the condition of the property and what their process is for receiving 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 unseen damage and withdraw 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. After you've submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. At this point it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Be aware, you'll be dealing with a process that usually involves multiple 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.