Buying a REO or foreclosure in Jacksonville

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are properties that have completed the foreclosure process and are now 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. You must also be willing to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll receive the property totally as is. That may consist of standing liens and even current residents that may require expulsion.

A REO, on the contrary, is a much neater and attractive proposition. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The lender will handle the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally plan for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. You should be aware that REOs may be exempt from typical disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks do not have to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that ordinarily requires sellers to reveal any defects of which they are informed.

Are REO's a bargain in Jacksonville?

It is frequently presume that any REO must be a good buy and an opportunity for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be prudent 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 soon, they are also strongly motivated 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 lenders 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 discover as much as you can about what they know about the condition of the property and what their process is for accepting offers. Since banks most commonly 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, providing documentation of your ability to pay may make your offer more attractive, such as a pre-approval letter from a lender. Once you've submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. At this point it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Understand, you'll be working with a process that generally involves several people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's quite common for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.