Buying a REO or foreclosure in Santa Fe

What is an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are homes which have completed the foreclosure process and are currently owned by the bank or mortgage company. This is different than real estate up for foreclosure auction. If you buy 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 get the property one-hundred percent as is. That possibly could include existing liens and even current tenants that need to be expelled.

A REO, conversely, is a more tidy and attractive proposition. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The lender will deal with 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 standard disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks do not have to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that usually requires sellers to make known any defects of which they are informed.

Is an REO in Santa Fe a bargain?

It's sometimes assumed that any REO must be a bargain and an chance for easy money. This isn't always true. You have to be very careful about buying a REO if your intent is make a profit. While it's true that the bank is typically anxious to sell it soon, 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. There are bargains with potential to make money, and many people do very well flipping foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and not likely to turn a profit.

Prepared to make an offer?

Most mortgage companies have a REO department that you'll work with in 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 find out 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 may want to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for hidden damage and retract 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. After you've made your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. From there it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Be aware, you'll be dealing with a process that usually 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.