Bob Hanley, Realtor
Bob Hanley

Buying Bank-Owned REO Properties


If a lender takes ownership of a property, either through an agreement with the owner during pre-foreclosure or at public auction, the lender will usually want to re-sell the property to recover the unpaid loan amount. The lender will then typically clear the title and perform needed maintenance and repair.

Tips for Buying Bank-Owned REO Properties

While buyers have found few large discounts among bank-owned foreclosures, opportunities for bargain hunters are likely to improve if mortgage defaults continue to increase. Across the country, a staggering number of homeowners are entering the foreclosure process and many are losing their properties to the bank or lender. As the inventory of bank-owned properties grows, lenders nationwide will be more open to negotiate price and other terms. And prospective homebuyers and investors are looking to cash in on rising tide of foreclosed homes.

Caught in the turmoil of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, a growing number of banks nationwide are scrambling to dispose of their rising inventories of foreclosed homes. Investors and homebuyers who specialize in the bank-owned properties, known as real-estate-owned, or REOs, are having a field day.

Once a home goes up for auction, a bank typically will send a representative to bid as much as the bank is owed. The lender generally will let it go if they are outbid — since they’ve then recouped their investment. But if the bank is the highest bidder, the property becomes an REO home.

While there are bargains to be found, REO properties aren’t selling far below market value yet. One reason is that bank-owned sales transactions can be more complicated, in part because the sale terms must be approved by the lender or the lender’s attorneys. Another reason it is difficult dealing with bank-owned properties is that some lenders are in offices far away from where the loss-mitigation department is struggling to process the listings. And with layoffs occurring within the industry, banks are even more understaffed than before.

Here are a few tips for foreclosure investors and homebuyers seeking bank-owned properties:

  • Real estate investing, like any investment strategy, is part of an overall financial plan. Before jumping into buying bank-owned real estate, understand the real estate laws, tax ramifications and other financial issues.
  • Consult with a tax or financial adviser who can help you assess your financial situation. Get your financial house in order first — that way, you know how much house you can buy.
  • Don’t think that foreclosure investing is easy. For every successful real estate investor, there are countless others who have failed. Make sure you spend time studying the market.

Information deemed as reliable as taken from