Today, a Buyer and I were viewing homes and most of them were bank-owned and vacant. Bank-owned (R.E.O.-Real Estate Owned) properties are fine and sometimes they're even exceptional deals. But you really never know what you're going to get, though, when you finally get there to take a look.
1. Getting the Property on "The List" of Homes to be Shown to a Buyer. This can be the easiest or the hardest thing to accomplish. First, the home must be priced very well for Buyers to take notice of it, especially with the large number of bank-owned properties for sale in our Central Florida area.
2. When the Buyer Wants to View the Property, the Buyer's agent needs to get showing instructions. Thank goodness for the "ShowingDesk" button on our MLS. All we have to do is click that button and the showing instructions miraculously appear--unless the listing agent hasn't recorded any instructions, which happens very often. Sometimes, those instructions are incorrect or are outdated. If the ShowingDesk button isn't activated, then we have the option of calling the listing company or agent. When viewing one property recently, I had gotten the showing instructions from the ShowingDesk button (it was a combination lockbox code) but the code given was not opening the lock. I called the agent and he said he had so many listings he couldn't possibly remember the code for the house I was at and I was to call the listing office for the code. Well, it was after hours and there was no one at the office to receive my call. I had to call the agent back and nicely try to finagle any kind of help. We finally resolved it and got into the house about three different combination codes later.
3. Buyers Want to See Lots of Pictures of the Home. And many (although not all) REO listing agents take the required Front Exterior picture of the home and may not take other pictures of the interior of the property. Some REO listing agents do an awesome job and have plenty of pictures and even take pictures of issues with the home such as a roof leak/moisture issue, mold issue, or whatever. With our Mid-Florida Multiple Listing Service (MLS), we are allowed up to ten pictures of the home. Buyers--ALL BUYERS--want to see pictures of the home, both exterior and interior. A Buyer wants to see pictures of the front of the home, the kitchen, the living area/living room, the master bedroom and master bathroom, the other bathroom, the backyard, any interesting features about the property, and any/everything else about the property that can be photographed. Buyers use pictures of the property to make decisions on whether or not to view the property.
4. The First Impression and Door Prizes at the Home are Anyone's Guess. Once it's been decided to go and see a bank-owned home, then comes the fun! Often, the pictures of the home seen on the MLS may not be a true picture of how the home looks when you go see it. Imagine that you and the Buyer drive up to the house, and the grass may or may not have been recently cut. It will have that look that only vacant homes can have. Often, there are door hangars on the front door or jammed in between the screen door and its frame promoting the local pizza place or other services such as coupons from house-cleaning agencies, etc. Today, I was surprised to find a door hangar from the water company on one home that indicated the water company had fixed a pipe leak at the property. The paper hangar looked like it had been there for some time, as it was very weathered. This freaked the Buyer out, though, and she looked through the house for evidence of a plumbing leak. The most interesting door prize I have found in my years as an agent was one from Animal Control saying that the owners of the property had 24 hours to contact them about a possible abandoned dog on the property or face fines.
5. The Owners of the House Before the Bank got the House may have Roughed Up the Property a little--or a LOT. No matter what is written in the public marketing remarks for the house (if anything), what the listing agent has written about some properties cannot prepare you for what you encounter AT the property. For instance, some REO properties are very well-maintained and have all the appliances and light fixtures, and the HVAC unit(s) while others do not. Depending on when the listing agent or the bank's servicing company was last out to the home, the grass may or may not be cut and the property may or may not be secure. Secure in this case means that the front door is locked and there is no other way of entry to the property--broken window, side door in the garage is locked. Today, we entered a property that appeared fine upon entering, then noticed someone had thrown something through a bathroom window, possibly to just vandalize it or maybe to gain entrance. Thankfully, there was not anyone inside the home to greet us unexpectedly--but that kind of thing DOES happen with vacant houses.
I'm sure I'll post again about vacant houses again soon. Looks like they are here to stay for a while. I still view that fact as a good thing because there are a lot of opportunities available. Are you still interested in seeing vacant REO properties? What procedures do you use when viewing vacant REO properties to stay safe while still making a profit?
These views are my own views. I may or may not be correct in my views and opinions.