Buying a REO or foreclosure in Durham

What's an REO?

REO stands for Real Estate Owned. These are properties that have completed the foreclosure process and are currently owned 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 added during the foreclosure process. You must also be willing to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll get the property totally as is. That possibly may include prevailing liens and even current denizens that may require removal.

A REO, on the other hand, is a much neater and attractive option. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The lender will take care of the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally arrange for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Note that REOs may be exempt from typical disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that usually requires sellers to disclose any defects of which they are aware.

Are REO's a bargain in Durham?

It's occasionally assumed that any REO must be a good buy and an chance for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be cautious about buying a REO if your intent is to make money off of it. While it's true that the bank is often anxious to sell it promptly, 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. It is possible to find REOs with money-making potential, and many people do very well flipping foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

All set to make an offer?

Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with when buying a REO property from them. Normally 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 regarding the condition of the property and what their process is for taking offers. Since banks almost always sell REO properties "as is", it may be in your best interest to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for unseen damage and cancel 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 counter offer. At this point it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Realize, you'll be dealing with a process that most likely involves several 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.


Tiffany Elder - Broker, Realtor

6409 Fayetteville Rd. Suite 120-367
Durham, NC 27713