Buying a REO or foreclosure in Orlando
What is an REO?
REO's or Real Estate Owned are homes which have completed the foreclosure process and are now possessed by the bank or mortgage company. This is not the same as 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 willing to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll accept the property entirely as is. That possibly may comprise prevailing liens and even current occupants that may require expulsion.
A REO, by contrast, is a more tidy and attractive deal. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender 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. Note that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that normally requires sellers to make known any defects of which they are knowledgeable.
Are REO's a bargain in Orlando?
It's commonly assumed that any REO must be a bargain and an possibility for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be cautious about buying a REO if your intent is make money. While it's true that the bank is often anxious to sell it fast, they are also strongly interested 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 buying and selling foreclosures. However there are also many REO's that are not good buys and not likely to turn a profit.
Prepared to make an offer?
Most lenders have a REO department that you'll work with while 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. Prior to making your offer, you'll want to contact either the listing agent or REO department at the bank and discover 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 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 terminate 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 made 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. Realize, you'll be working with a process that probably 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.