What an REO agent needs to keep with them at all times

Real Estate Agent with Ozarks' Independent Realty

Okay, a recent new listing caught me unprepared, and I learned a thing or two that I want to share...

First, always expect the worst when you go to enter a property for the first time. If it isn't so bad, you'll be thrilled, but if it is and you're not ready for it...

I carry the following things in my trunk all the time. Feel free to add to the list, if I am missing something...

Bug repellent- spray liberally all over your shoes and pant legs before stepping onto the property. I know some agents who carry big trash bags and put them over their feet/legs before going in. I haven't tried it, but I guess the fleas can't hang on...

Rubber gloves, preferably the kind doctors and nurses wear. Be careful what you touch!

Vick's Vaporub to dab under your nose to help block the smell of some of your more "seasoned" REOs..

List of all emergency contact numbers for the town/county you're in. Keep your cell phone handy!

I take both my digital cameras and extra batteries. I Also make sure I take my car keys in with me and lock the car doors.

Dog snacks. I learned recently that having something to throw down to a starving dog (who has been locked inside for who-knows-how-long after the occupants moved out) really slows them down a bit, then they are a lot more friendly to you, and less likely to see you as food!.

Extra clothes and shoes, and a plastic bag to put the old ones in, should bugs, odors or other "stuff" get on your first outfit.

Flashlight. Tape measure or laser measurer.

A "buddy," if the neighborhood or property appears to be occupied or dangerous in any manner. Some agents I know always carry a gun, as well.

Common sense! If a property looks dangerous, you see something or someone suspicious,  or those little alarm bells are ringing in your head, leave! get someone else, preferably a cop, to return with you.

In short, a lot of the things we run into doing foreclosures is irritating and an inconvenience (fleas, filth, terrible smells), but others can be dangerous (rotting floors, starving pit bulls, meth labs). Pay attention and go prepared, and you are less likely to run into something you can't deal with!



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Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

I'm doubled over with laughter. 

I was contacted by an agent who has a number of REO listings in MD and was looking for someone to help her in VA. 

I was very interested and we made an appointment to meet tomorrow a.m.  However, she never followed through with e-mail confirmation and didn't return a phone message in 48 hours.  So, I cancelled.  I don't have the patience to work with someone that irresponsible. 

Now, reading your post, I just realized that we "dodged a bullet".

Thanks Amber.  You made my day.

Nov 07, 2007 06:13 AM #1
Dwayne West
Atlanta Real Estate - Canton, GA
Canton Georgia Real Estate
Good information, and good post we all could lear something from this post.
Nov 07, 2007 06:20 AM #2
Josette Skilling
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Bethesda, MD
My gosh we all whine about not getting reductions or not making any money and you have to deal with this crap!   More power to you for working in these conditions!
Nov 07, 2007 06:35 AM #3
Stacy Magid
Century 21 New Millennium - Woodbridge, VA
Thankfully I haven't had to deal with any of this on the foreclosures that I have dealt with.  Love your list though.  Another thing may be to contact the police if the home is occupied just in case there are issues.  Safety comes first.  I was talking to another realtor lately about some foreclosure listings and thankfully she had the police with her because it turned into a drug bust. 
Nov 07, 2007 06:43 AM #4
Amber Bourland
Ozarks' Independent Realty - West Plains, MO

well, my last REO listing was foreclosed on because the borrower went to jail. Seems the bond amount for operating a meth lab across the street from a school was too hefty, and he still sits in jail. In the meantime, others were apparently using the house for "entertainment" purposes. The trash-out guys found over 20 used needles, and I KNOW the cops aren't THAT sloppy in searching!

It may not always be pretty, but it is always interesting!

Nov 07, 2007 07:28 AM #5
Trey Thurmond
BCR Realtors - College Station, TX
College Station , Texas Homes

This is all very interesting and real .  I fell through a porch floor this year on a REO listing. Had a couple of others where it wasn't even worth trying to lock them. I replaced the front door on one home and the door was gone by morning.  Is it worth it?

Nov 07, 2007 08:07 AM #6
Amber Bourland
Ozarks' Independent Realty - West Plains, MO
I wonder, if all the agents who think REO is the easy way to make steady money in real estate got their first listing, and it turned out to be one of these nightmare properties, do you think they would stick it out for the long haul? I don't think most agents even begin to understand what some of us have to deal with in some of these properties...
Nov 07, 2007 08:22 AM #7
Robert Elfand
Oviedo, FL
When I inspect an REO property, I also take along a inhalation mask for possible mold issue properties (lots of water/humidity issues in FL) and I make sure to leave the front and rear doors open while inspecting.  It allows any unwanted inhabitants to leave and offers two escape routes in case of any trouble.
Nov 07, 2007 08:28 AM #8
Tanya Carlisle
Carlisle Realty - Charlotte, NC

I'd be careful about leaving the doors open to the house while inside. We had a case in NC where the agent did that and some construction workers came in behind her and raped her.

I've heard the best thing to take with you to an REO is your dog. I don't have a dog, but I know an REO agent that has 2 large labs that she's trained to check the house out for her before she goes in.

Nov 07, 2007 08:50 AM #9
Robert Elfand
Oviedo, FL


I have heard similar situations, but when the door is shut behind you and you then find a vagrant is squatting in the dwelling...I want to ensure that I can get out if need be?  Either way, just being aware helps tremendously!

Nov 07, 2007 08:55 AM #10
Jeffrey Dolfinger
24/7 Realty Inc. - Poughkeepsie, NY
NRBA Member

A baseball bat can sometimes help, or I'll call someone on the cell and keep the line open until I'm sure the house is clear.  I have even gotten a police escort, and brought a shotgun, yep its legal, I checked as long as its not concealed in NY. I do not ever worry about bugs, flea or whatever.  I spend alot of time as a landlord and an outdoorsman and get ticks etc all of the time.  I just change my clothes.

Nov 07, 2007 02:39 PM #11
Rich Kruse
Gryphon USA, Ltd. - Columbus, OH
I am on my way out this morning and I have a flashlight, screwgun and a "little helper".  It is good to go early, before trouble wakes up.  After 3pm is a bad idea.
Nov 07, 2007 10:35 PM #12
Robert Smith
Preview Properties, PC - http://www.RealEstateMich.com - Brighton, MI
SRES, Search for Homes Brighton-Howell-SE Michigan
After a recent REO listing where there was significant mold in the basement, I've considered adding a paper respirator-mask thingy to my car.  I do keep a bottle of Purell(TM) in my briefcase since many of those properties are just downright nasty and don't have working water service.
Nov 08, 2007 12:14 AM #13
Amber Bourland
Ozarks' Independent Realty - West Plains, MO
I think I need to add the paper mask and Purell to my supplies... I usually have such things as a hammer and sledge, screwgun, and other basic tools (mechanic's wife- gotta go prepared). I did carry a container of baby wipes to clean my hands off, but the containers kept getting crackd from other things in the trunk, and they dried out all the time. But yeah, some of these places are pretty nasty! others are great homes, cleaned out and left in move-in condition. that's the thing about this job- you get an order and an address, and you never know just what you will find until you are there...
Nov 08, 2007 04:26 AM #14
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR
Good post and good advice.  I think I learned from it.  REO's are never boring.
Nov 08, 2007 09:15 AM #15
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