Buying a REO or foreclosure in Beverly Hills

What is an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are properties that have gone through foreclosure and are currently owned by the bank or mortgage company. This is not the same as 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 amassed during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be ready to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll receive the property entirely as is. That possibly will comprise prevailing liens and even current tenants that need to be thrown out.

A REO, on the contrary, is a much neater and attractive transaction. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The lender now owns it. The bank will handle the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally prepare 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 do not have to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that typically requires sellers to reveal any defects they are knowledgeable of.

Are REO's a bargain in Beverly Hills?

It's sometimes believed that any REO must be a good buy and an possibility for easy money. This usually 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 often anxious to sell it promptly, 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. There are bargains with potential to make money, and many people do very well flipping 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 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 learn 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 typically 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 unknown damage and withdraw 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. After you've made your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. From there it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Be aware, you'll be contending with a process that generally involves a group of 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.

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