What is an REO? How do I find REO investment properties in South Bend?

What is an REO Investment Property - Real Estate Owned Property





What is a bank-owned or “REO” property?

REO is an acronym for “Real Estate Owned”. According to Chase Bank, “REO, (“Real Estate Owned”), is a banking term used to describe a property that was acquired by a bank, lender or servicer as a result of a foreclosure or deed in lieu of foreclosure. Once the foreclosure or deed in lieu of foreclosure process is completed, the title has been transferred and the property is ready to be marketed, it will be available for sale through a local real estate agent.

Source: Chase

If a property owner stops making their mortgage payments, and no short sale is arranged, there are really just two options. The owners and lending institution can agree to a “deed in lieu of foreclosure.” In this scenario, the lending institution agrees to accept a deed to the property. At this point the property becomes an REO. In the second scenario, short of another workable agreement, lending institutions will eventually foreclose. (It’s worth noting that some banks are swift to start and finalize foreclosue proceeding while others are currently very slow to act.)  At the end of the foreclosure process, the lending institution owns the property free and clear of all financial encumbrances.

REO properties are also referred to “Bank Owned Properties” and “Bank Repos”. When you make an offer on a Bank Owned property, you are negotiating directly with the lending institution that owns the property. Most REO properties are listed with real estate agents and submitted immediately to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

What is a Short-sale?

Short Sale: Many  property owners have a mortgage balance that exceeds the value of their property.  If the property owner wants or needs to sell the property they often attempt what’s commonly referred to as a Short Sale. This means that at closing, the payoff to the bank or lending institution will be short of the total amount(s) owed on the property . A ‘short sale’ must be approved by the lending institution(s). Lending institutions differ in their requirements for an affirmative decision to proceed with a short sale. Many require that the seller prove hardship.

Banks are beginning to  look more favorably at short sales yet approval times are still long and the outcome uncertain. During the course of the approval process, the bank will order an independent appraisal or broker price opinion. If the independeant valuation causes the bank to believe that the short sale price is too low, they will not accept the price.

How does all this work? How much (or little) can we offer?

The actual transaction for the sale of bank owned homes is similar to any escrow with a few exceptions. The first exception is that the seller is Corporate. Lending institutions do not make decisions the same way that individuals do. There are layers of management for approvals. Each lending institution has specific criteria for negotiations. Having said that there are some guidelines that seem to hold true for most lending institutions:

  • They sometimes take longer to respond to a counter offer than an individual would so be prepared for that.
  • They do not want to make repairs. Some will pay for pest inspections, others do not want to. Some will offer credits for repairs, others will not. Regardless of how inspections and credits may be negotiated, all lending institutions want the sale to be “as is.” They are not in the business of home improvement.
  • Lending institutions negotiate for an escrow period of 30 days or less. Longer escrow periods simply do not appeal to lending institutions.
  • Lending institutions attempt to price the properties to sell. Usually they pay for anappraisal before listing the property. They compare the appraisal with the Broker Price Opinion that’s provided by a real estate agent. If the property does not sell within a reasonable time period, the bank will obtain second opinions from realtors or appraisers. At that point, they may reduce the price. Most of the sales that I have reviewed, at least in this area, have a minimal difference between the asking price and the sales price. If there are multiple offers, homes sometimes sell for more than the asking price.
  • A Loan Pre-approval letter is usually required before a lending institution will review an offer on one of their properties. A pre-approval letter differs from a Pre-qualification letter. You will want to contact a lender and start the process before you make an offer. If you are not currently working with a lender, you are invited to call me for a referral.








Here are the Best REO Agents in Michiana according to a study by DIR Incorporated.

South Bend – Notre Dame area, John Tiffany, Integra Real Estate

Mishawaka – Granger, Pam Proctor, At Home Realty Group

Osceola – Elkhart, Tracy Mauer Jones, Remax Excellence

Goshen – Middlebury, Andy Myers, Myers Trust Realty

Edwardsburg-Niles, Michigan Francee Foster, At Home Realty Group

Notable mentions: Barry Skalski,

Wells Fargo :



M & T Bank :



Union Bank :


US Bank:


BB & T :

Ocean Bank :

One West Bank :

Citi Bank :

Sun Trust Mortgage :

People’s United Bank :

Zion Bank :

Bridgeview Bank :

Bank of the West :

United Community Bank :

Key Bank :

1st Place Bank :

New Dominion Bank :


You may have additional questions and you may want to buy one of these properties. I hope that you do. If so, I hope that you will call me with your questions. If you would like a proficient guide through the complexities of this  market, please contact me.

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