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If you’ve decided to buy a home, but you don’t want to break the bank, one good option might be lender-owned properties, commonly referred to as real estate owned (REO) homes.

In this post, we’ll go over what these properties are, how to find them and what to consider if you’re thinking about buying an REO property.

What Is REO?

Real estate owned homes refers to properties that the lender or mortgage investor now owns. As we’ll go over below, there are multiple ways for this to happen. But a home doesn’t automatically become REO once a lender takes possession. In order to recoup losses and get rid of the property in short order, a lender will first try to sell a home at auction.

Unfortunately for the lender or mortgage investor, properties often don’t sell at auction. There are multiple factors that go into this.

The main hindrance is the reality that many times the reason people go into foreclosure is that they owe more on the house than it’s worth due to a downturn in the market. The foreclosure process is also very costly involving attorney fees and the cost of seizing and securing the property, among other things. When the lender then tries to sell that property, they have to price above actual market value in order to recover the balance and their costs.

If the lender who took possession of the home can’t sell the property at an auction, then the lender takes over ownership of the home. The lender then tries to sell the real estate-owned property to minimize their losses. At that point, it becomes an REO property that stays on the lender’s books for a while.

Is There a Difference Between REO and Foreclosure?

Although one of the ways this commonly happens is through foreclosure if the person was unable to make their payments. The terms REO and foreclosure aren’t synonymous with each other.

REO status might also be a result if the home was given back after the last homeowner moved out or passed away at the end of a reverse mortgage. In the case of a reverse mortgage, if heirs don’t want to pay off the balance or refinance the home to keep it and don’t wish to deal with a sale, they have the option of giving the property back to the lender or mortgage investor.

How Do You Buy an REO Home?

If you’re looking to buy an REO home, how do you find one? How do you know how much you can afford? Let’s break it down.

Where Do You Find Bank-Owned Properties?

A good place to start in your looking for property is to search the publicly available listing from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

In addition to the properties available from HUD itself (FHA foreclosures and reverse mortgage sales), this directory also connects you to homes listed by other federal entities, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Agriculture and the IRS.

In addition to the listings of the federal government itself, you’ll also be able to reach the REO sales sites for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are government-sponsored entities (GSE) from that same HUD page.

Although this isn’t as common anymore, large banks do occasionally operate under the old model where they make a loan and hold onto it for 15 or 30 years rather than selling it to specialized mortgage investors like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and having it be included in a mortgage-backed security (MBS).

In these cases, they may have their own listings you can search online to find an REO property they’ve repossessed.

Strengthening Your Offer

For any sale, the entity selling the REO property will want to be confident the deal is going to go through because they want to get off their books as soon as possible.

In order to make your offer stand out, we recommend you couple it with a strong mortgage approval. With our Verified Approval, we pull your credit to get a look at your median FICO® score to determine what loan options you may qualify for, but we also ask you to share documentation on your income and assets. This documentation can come in the form of tax returns, W-2s, pay stubs and bank statements. Within 24 hours of getting your information back, our team will make a decision on your Verified Approval.

We use this to determine your debt to income ratio (DTI). This gives us a highly accurate picture of the monthly mortgage payment you can afford. Because it’s verified, the listing agent can be extremely confident your deal will go through and it gives your offer strength equivalent to that of a cash buyer. You should also feel extremely confident in your offer, and we’ll back it up. If your mortgage loan doesn’t close through no fault of your own after getting a Verified Approval, we’ll give you $1,000.1

At the same time, at Quicken Loans, we know that you’re not just trying to figure out how much you can afford. You’re also trying to pay as little as possible for it on a monthly basis. That means having the lowest interest rate you possibly can. In a rising rate environment, the traditional idea that you can only lock your rate once you find a house isn’t going to get it done. At the same time, you don’t want to be rushed into finding your home before a rate lock expires.

That’s where RateShield™ Approval can help. This loan option allows you to lock your interest rate for up to 90 days while shopping for a new home.2 Once you find your new home, we compare your initial locked rate to the rates currently available on the market. If rates are higher, you just keep the rate you locked. If rates go up, your rate stays. If rates go down, your rate drops. Either way, you win!

It’s important to note that any mortgage approval you get will show you the very top end of what you can afford. The reasoning behind this is that it gives you room to go up if you get into a bidding war, but it’s important to not start out by looking at homes at the top end, particularly in this space.

Things to Consider with REO Properties

Buying an REO home can be a good idea because they’re usually priced low because the lender wants a hassle-free process and hopes to create some competition between buyers. However, these types of homes often need repairs, and the lender usually won’t pay for any of the work because they don’t want to spend any more money than they already have on the home. These homes are often sold as is, warts and all. So, you can get it for a lower price, but you might have to spend a lot of money fixing up the home.

The following things will help you determine whether a particular REO property is right for you.

Get a Real Estate Agent Familiar with REO

When you’re looking at foreclosures and other investor-owned properties, it’s helpful to have someone who’s familiar with that market. REO properties have their own peculiarities and it helps to have someone who’s an expert.

To begin with, they’ll know how to structure an offer that looks most pleasing to a lender or mortgage investor. A good agent will know what they expect to see in the offer and, just as importantly, what they don’t. They may also have some experience with telling you what would need to be done to get the house up to your living standards.

Our friends over at Rocket HomesSM can help match you with a real estate agent who understands your goals as well as your budget.

Get a Home Inspection

A home inspection is especially key when it comes to buying an REO property. Although the lender or investor is unlikely to fix any problems that come out of the inspection, it’s still important to get one done so that you know what’s wrong with the house before you move into it.

By going through their home with the inspector, you can also ask questions and know what problems to be on the lookout for.

If there are any absolute deal breakers regarding work you don’t want to do, you’ll be able to back out of the deal now and only lose your deposit. If you and your real estate agent can get the investor to agree to an inspection contingency, you might not even lose that.

Understanding Special vs. General Warranty Deeds

In most home sales, typically, you have a general warranty deed. As a buyer, this tells you a couple of things.

  • The seller has the right to sell you the property as they currently own it.
  • There are no other legal issues or claims to the property by anyone other than the seller.

If you get a general warranty deed, you can be confident no one will come along to say there are issues with your title from before you own the property. There are no liens and the property is owned free and clear by the seller.

With an REO sale, you may not be able to get a general warranty deed. In this situation, it’s common to instead receive a special warranty deed. In this instance, special doesn’t mean better.

With a special warranty deed, the mortgage investor is likely to only guarantee that there are no additional title issues that have been created since they took over ownership. They don’t necessarily warrant that there weren’t other pre-existing title issues.

Although they do have the right to sell the property, a special warranty deed doesn’t necessarily preclude there being other issues like pre-existing liens on the property. For this reason, it’s important to take precautions.

One thing you might do with an REO property is look at buying an owner’s title policy. You’re required to get a lender’s title policy, which protects the lender’s investment in the properties shouldn’t there be another ownership claim against your home, but taking the extra step to get an owner’s title policy will help protect your investment in the home and make you whole if any pre-existing claims against the property come back to bite you.

The owner’s title policy could be particularly helpful when it comes to buying an REO property. Many of the homes available have been foreclosed on. In general, this means the previous owners probably had financial trouble and you may have to worry about tax liens or judgments on the property. Having an owner’s title policy could help you if anything were to come up.

Are you looking at buying an REO property? Feel free to get a mortgage approval online through Rocket Mortgage® by Quicken Loans. One of our Home Loan Experts would also be happy to go over your situation if you give us a call at (800) 785-4788. If you still have questions, you can let us know in the comments below.

1 Participation in the Verified Approval program is based on an underwriter’s comprehensive analysis of your credit, income, employment status, debt, property, insurance, appraisal and a satisfactory title report/search. If new information materially changes the underwriting decision resulting in a denial of your credit request, if the loan fails to close for a reason outside of Quicken Loans’ control, or if you no longer want to proceed with the loan, your participation in the program will be discontinued. If your eligibility in the program does not change and your mortgage loan does not close, you will receive $1,000. This offer does not apply to new purchase loans submitted to Quicken Loans through a mortgage broker. Additional conditions or exclusions may apply. Verified Approval within 24 hours of receipt of all requested documentation.

2 RateShield Approval locks your initial interest rate for up to 90 days on 30-year conventional, FHA and VA fixed-rate purchase loan products. Your exact interest rate will depend on the date you lock your rate. Once you submit your signed purchase agreement, we’ll compare your rate to our published rates for that date and re-lock your interest rate at the lower of the two rates for an additional 40 to 60 days. Quicken Loans reserves the right to cancel this offer at any time. Acceptance of this offer constitutes the acceptance of these terms and conditions, which are subject to change at the sole discretion of Quicken Loans. This is not a commitment to lend. Additional conditions or exclusions may apply..

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This Post Has 52 Comments

  1. Hello Zing Admin,
    I would like Quicken loans REO/foreclosure information on a particular Quicken Loan property that I would like to purchase. Could you please send me an email to start a dialogue on the property I have in mind. I can give you the address, please email me. The property is is for the Cumberland Gap, TN area. Thanks!
    Donn Toensfeldt

    1. Hi Donn:

      I’m emailing you to get the address of the property so I can pass it along to our team to get you any information we have. Thanks!

    1. Hi Valentine:

      If you can get me the address, I can get it to our team to give you any information we have. I’m going to email you. Thanks!

  2. Hi-
    I am trying to purchase a home in Benton, AR that is owned by Quicken Loans. I’ve tried reaching out to multiple people with no luck. Can you help?

    1. Hi Betsy:

      I’m going to get this to our team and if we can share any information at this time, will be sure to get it to you. The sale isn’t necessarily handled by us, but often by the mortgage investor (FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc.) and scheduled by the county. I’m going to email you for the address of the property and then I can get it to our team to see if there’s any info we have on the handling of the sale.

  3. There is a home in Sevierville, TN that the current owner is Quicken Loans, so I am assuming that it is a foreclosure. Can I get some information about purchasing this home.

  4. Hello Mr. Graham,
    Much appreciate the sources of information you provide to potential home buyers.
    I’m new to the REO market and very curious to learn more. Your help is greatly requested.
    Would you to please provide my name to parties that can offer their services to help me
    to find REO’s in the Clinton, Iowa area. Is there a list of REO homes available in this area?
    I have made plans to be in the area to view homes listed for sale. I want see REO properties too.
    My credit score is excellent and have adequate cash reserves on the side to help negotiate the sale.
    Please feel free to contact me. Will look forward to your response.
    Thank you for your time,
    Robert C.

    1. Hi Robert:

      The Department of Housing and urban development keeps a list of all the available REO properties in an area for for not only FHA, but also Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA, etc. I hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Kevin

  5. Hi, I was looking on Trulia and saw a property located in Mount Kisco, New York, which is a REO owned by Quicken Loans. How can I get information on that property in order to purchase it. As well as other REO Quicken Loans properties. Thank you.

    1. Hi JJ:

      The Department of Housing and Urban Development keeps a list of REO properties from a ton of sources. That’ll give you a place to start looking. You can get a preapproval online through Rocket Mortgage. If you’d rather get started over the phone, one of our Home Loan Experts will be happy to take your call at (888) 980-6716.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

    1. Hi Ron:

      I’m going to get you over to our Client Relations team and they should be able to direct you to the right place. Thanks!

      Kevin Graham

        1. Hi Sharon:

          I’m going to get this over to our Client Relations team and they’ll be able to give you further direction. Have a great day!

          Thanks,
          Kevin Graham

          1. Hello, do you have a phone and email contact to sign up for REO property management and property preservation?

            Thank you

          2. Hi Sherry:

            Do you have questions on a specific property or are you looking to do property preservation? We have an internal team that handles our property preservation work, but if you have questions on the purchase of a specific property, I’m going to email you right now for the address. I can then pass that on to the appropriate team and someone will get back to you in the next day or so. Emailing now.

            Thanks,
            Kevin

    1. It’s easier in the sense that you don’t have to go through the process of applying for a mortgage. The downside is that you have to come up with all the cash upfront, which is harder to do.

      You can also get a preapproval extremely quickly through Rocket Mortgage. We connect the digital platforms you use to manage your money and you share some income and asset information with us. Then you pull your credit when you’re ready. The whole thing can be done in minutes and you don’t have to come up with the money upfront. If you get stuck on the way, we’re always here to help.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  6. Quicken Loans (plaintiff) just foreclosed a specific house in Oklahoma, which I am interested in purchasing… is there someone who handles Quicken’s REO properties to whom I could speak?

    1. Hi David:

      I’m going to pass your information to someone who can get you in touch with the right people. Thanks!

      Kevin Graham

    2. There is property that Quicken foreclosed on in Frankfort, KY, and everywhere I check they still own it. How do I see about purchasing this property and who handles Quicken’s REO property I can speak with?

      1. Hi Joyce:

        I’m going to get this to our client relations team and they should be able to point you in the right direction. Thanks for reaching out!

        Kevin Graham

  7. Hi,
    I am looking for some advice, my husband and I are moving back to the states from Australia, being young professionals we want to get our foot in the door and are very interested in seeking out REO homes to purchase. Is there a procedure for how to go about this process or is it negotiating with which ever company holds the title of the house? Thank you

    1. The bid and offer process for the major mortgage investors takes place online through their individual websites. The big ones are HUD for FHA and VA properties, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. You find the house you like and then put the actual offer in online. Hopefully this helps!

      Thanks,
      Kevin

  8. Hi I would like to know if I choose to use quicken loan to get pre approved
    does quicken loan offer down payment assistance to buy the home and would I
    be able to purchase a REO home with quicken loan?

    1. Hi Tangela:

      I’m going to take these in reverse order. You would be able to purchase an REO home. We do have a 1% down payment program with a 2% grant that functions like down payment assistance. We would need more information to know if you qualify. I’m going to recommend you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts by visiting this link or calling (888) 728-4702.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

    1. Hi Edie:

      Unfortunately, we don’t do bulk lending. I’m not familiar enough with this market to tell you where you can find such properties.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  9. Hello, my name is Raquel and I am in search of a home. My credit score is at 576 and I have read in some of your responses that I need a 580 to qualify for a FHA loan. I also have no down payment any advise would be appreciated. I need a house ASAP. Is there anything I can do to make this possible.

    1. Hi Raquel:

      The only 0% down payment option we have is a VA loan. We do have down payment options that are low. They allow for as little as 3% down payment if you have a 620 credit score. It’s 3.5% if you just want to qualify for FHA at 580. Here’s a blog post with some tactics on building up your score. I hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  10. Our daughter is a single Mom who lives in North Jersey. Her credit isn’t the best, but we are helping to get things in order. She is interested in being a home owner in about a year. The only way that would be financially possible is, we believe, with a REO. Would it be advisable for her to approach the banks in her area asking about REO’s, or to simply look online? Would a realtor be the way to go, or would that just add to the cost? We do plan on helping her with the downpayment and possibly have my husband on the deed, but the mortgage would be strictly in her name. Are REO’s eligible for mortgage? If not, what would her other options be? And finally, is there something other than an REO that she should consider? Thank you for your help.

    1. Hi Leenie:

      I’m going to try to take these one at a time. You don’t have to approach any bank to look at REO properties. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Department of Housing and Urban Development all have website listings. Whether you need a real estate agent ultimately may come down to your comfort level, but real estate agents do tend to know the market in your area and can help you find a house that meets your daughter’s needs easier in some cases. REO properties are eligible for a mortgage. Finally, she may have other low down payment options that don’t involve REO properties. I’m going to have someone reach out to you to go further into your daughter’s situation and any options she has.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  11. Hi I am a Veteran with a C.O.E,, a credit score of 650+, have a good monthly income, from V.A.D. and S.S.D.I, also attended First Time Home Buyer Class and have my certification good for one year. R.E.O. Homes in Ohio for 30 year my Dad ran a remodeling company, so fixing up a place is not a problem, I’m confused on which way to go, buy out-right V.A, no money down, Rent to own option, or go REO, problem,is reo home will not qualify for a mortgage, I’ve been in quite a few, and as you stated a lot are run down and the lender don’t even want to invest in the property, I was told a house of this nature has 2 factors to look at, (1. is the house sound – cracks, broken windows, roof leaks, or about to collapse etc. 2 is the property safe, sinkhole,flood zone, exposed wiring, no plumbing, this is the first thing the inspector or appraiser is going to look at, he reports back to the lender yea or nay, and these people have to be paid for their services, so guess who pays, I’m stuck on which way to go, I’m ready looking for a good dream, not a nightmare! Help!!!!!!

    1. Hi Benjamin:

      I’m going to have someone reach out to you and give some advice on this. Thanks for reaching out!

      Kevin Graham

  12. I would like to buy a REO.. Plenty in my area..credit is 565. Cause if oilfield slump… Husband and I would like to start flipping properties. Need our foot in the door. How do we do this. Have No Money of Our Own..Just want a Home.. Lost twenty years of retirement with Enron. Thank You.

    1. Hi Sherry:

      Sorry to hear about your retirement fund. Regarding getting a mortgage, you’ll need to get your credit score up to 580 before you can be approved for an FHA loan. You’ll also need some money for a 3.5% down payment. There’s a potential for that to come from other sources, but the down payment is something to keep in mind. I’m going to have someone reach out and go over this with you.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  13. Hello my name is Kathy and I live in SC, Single mom for 20 years now, I still have my baby of 4 still with me. Several years ago I had to stop working due to my back”Shriners did my surgery” but of course I was turned down for Disability & they put me on SSI !!! Anyway this past year I was diagnosed with Huntingston that my dad had, again even tho’ there’s no cure or treatment there’s nomore financial help. I’would love to have a HOME that’s MINE now I just have no idea where to start. Please help because my rent is killing me & I see so many homes that I would love to call HOME !!!

    1. Hi Kathy:

      I’m very sorry to hear about your medical situation. I can put you in touch with someone to help you look into your options. They’ll be reaching out.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  14. We are a young family looking to buy our first home. I see hundreds of REO foreclosed in my area and was wondering if this is a good option for us. Unfortunately we don’t have great credit but we could make a reasonable down payment. I have been doing research and would be so grateful for more information.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Jacquelyn:

      REO properties are definitely an option. One thing to consider is that to get a mortgage, you’re most likely going to need a credit score of at least 580, but I’m going to have someone reach out to you with more information.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  15. already live in a REO Property, which was first a reverse mortgage to my now deceased mom. The reverse mortgage was processed in 2007. My mom died in 20012. I was pre-qualified to purchase at short sell in 2013. I was denied due to problem with getting on title. Later on finding out that my sister was still on the deed and was forced by an attorney that represented the reverse mortgage to sign deed over to the bank. Or she would be responsible for the mortgage and stated that they will garnish her wages. My sister explained to the reverse mortgage rep, that she had no knowledge of her name being on the deed, for she had already sign a form from the reverse mortgage to take her name off of the deed. after being harassed by the bank’s rep., she felt forced to sign a ratification form to sign over the deed. ( in 2013) Which later was found to be fraudulent according to a law firm that was representing her case. Unfortunately my sister ignorantly file for bankruptcy during this investigation. She filed chapter 7 which of course put in the hands of the trustees. At this point the reverse mortgage rep. settled for 50,000 dollars. P.S. I’ve been living in this property for over 30 yrs. Which was bought and owned by my now deceased parents; until my mom decided to get a Reverse Mortgage. And just recently my son who lives with me is now paralyzed. How can I keep this property

    1. Thank you for your comment, Teace. I’m going to have a home loan expert reach out to you with an email. They’ll look at your situation and see what we can do.

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