Buying a REO or foreclosure in Beverly Hills

What is an REO?

REO is an abbreviation for Real Estate Owned. These are homes which have been foreclosed upon which the bank or mortage company now holds. This is different than 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. You must also be prepared to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll receive the property entirely as is. That could include existing liens and even current occupants that need to be thrown out.

A REO, conversely, is a much neater and attractive deal. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The bank now owns it. The lender will see to 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 instance, in Calfornia, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that typically requires sellers to make known any defects they are informed of.

Is an REO in Beverly Hills a bargain?

It is occasionally though that any REO must be a bargain and an opportunity for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be prudent about buying a REO if your intent is make money. While it's true that the bank is typically anxious to sell it promptly, they are also strongly encouraged 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. The bargains with money making potential exist, 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.

Ready to make an offer?

Most lenders have a REO department that you'll work with in 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 regarding the condition of the property and what their process is for accepting offers. Since banks most commonly sell REO properties "as is", it's often prudent to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for unknown damage and retract 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 submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. Then it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Realize, you'll be working with a process that most likely involves several people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's typical for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.

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