How to search for bank-owned properties

Written by lanae carr
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Bank-owned properties can present opportunities for home buyers to purchase real estate at a significant discount. These properties come in all sectors of real estate such as industrial, single family residential, office and raw land. Begin your search for a bank-owned property based on your personal or professional needs. For example, if you are searching for a home to live in and are new to buying foreclosures, steer away from tools that target sophisticated real estate investors as these options can create significant financial setbacks when used improperly.

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  1. 1

    Visit the website of a national bank. Many national banks post REO, or real estate owned, listings on their websites. Use the search tool bar to locate "REO properties" on the bank's website or use the site map to guide you. Smaller banks may require further investigation. You can call the bank to get the contact information for the person in charge of distressed assets or REO properties.

  2. 2

    Ask the person in charge if there is a list available of all the REO properties in your area. Offer to stop by the bank to pick up the paperwork. It may take several attempts to get this person on the phone especially when the housing market is down and a mass of homes are returned to the bank at once.

  3. 3

    Request the name of the real estate broker that represents their properties if a physical list is not available. Real estate brokers will have details available about the bank-owned properties that are not available through auctions and foreclosure listing sites.

  4. 4

    Visit the website of your county's tax assessor. Browse properties in neighbourhoods you want to invest in by entering the address and street number then clicking "Search." Most properties on the list will be owned by corporations, individuals or small businesses, but bank-owned property will be listed with the bank as the owner of record. Contact the REO specialist at that bank to request information on the property or obtain the information of the broker who is representing the bank in the transaction.

Tips and warnings

  • Get a pre-approval from a lender. Many banks require documentation of proof of funds before a buyer can make an offer on a foreclosure listing.
  • Real estate auctions and foreclosure listing sites often have vague information offered about properties for sale. These websites may require financial commitments before you are experienced enough to properly utilise the site. Choose to search for REO properties using your local bank and real estate broker until you become familiar with the process of vetting real estate investment deals.

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