What Are Repossessed Homes?

Bank Repo Sign

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of repossessed homes exist. These repo homes are some of the best opportunities for homebuyers and real estate investors alike to find cheap homes for sale.

Repossessed properties are any residential properties that seized by the owner of a mortgage. You can have traditional houses or even repo mobile homes - any property used as a residence. (All repossessed houses are considered foreclosure homes until they fail to sell at auction; at that time, they are called REO homes.)

Common Types of Repo Houses

One of the most common types of repossessed properties involves bank repossessed homes for sale. These properties were taken back by banks when their owners could not make mortgage payments. Banks list and sell these properties to recoup their losses. Others types are:

  • Government repo homes: those that are backed by a government guarantee, or a government loan. Several government agencies help people purchase homes, which is why many discount properties are owned by state and federal governments.
  • HUD homes: properties owned by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These repossessed homes for sale generally were purchased with FHA loans, whose owners defaulted and could not make payments.
  • VA homes: those that were purchased with VA loans, that are available solely to service-members and their dependents.

Finally, there are listings owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two agencies that purchase - and thereby own - thousands of mortgages.

Understanding the Home Repossession Process

The first step in the home repossession process is a late payment. Afterward, lenders send a Notice and Demand for Payment which calls for the sum of the owed amount, plus interest and fees. If the homeowner does not oblige, the lender can pursue foreclosure.

The foreclosure process begins with a Notice of Default sent to the homeowner. A Notice of Sale is then sent after a certain amount of time (depending on the state); this is roughly equivalent to a lis pendens filing in a judicial foreclosure state. In non-judicial foreclosure, lenders can then put the real estate parcel up for sale at courthouse auctions. In a judicial foreclosure, the property can be auctioned off with a judge's approval. (See our Foreclosure Laws Page to know more about Judicial and Non Judicial Foreclosures).

How to Buy Repossessed Homes for Sale

Those who want to find and purchase repo homes for primary residences, second homes, or vacation property can consult online foreclosure listings.

The actual purchasing goes on at a courthouse auction in the county in which the house is located. Some counties conduct online auctions. To purchase a home, it is recommended to conduct thorough research and offer a price below market value but high enough to not be immediately dismissed. Selecting homes in good neighborhoods, next to solid schools and amenities, is a good way to lock in value and purchase homes that are likely to appreciate in price quickly.

Offer fairly, leave room for negotiation, and pick your property carefully before bidding.

Advantages of Investing in Repo Houses for Sale

Repo houses for sale are advantageous for investors and home buyers for many reasons - mainly that they are very affordable compared to other, non-repo homes. The price discount could be as steep as 75-80% or more in some areas. For those interested in home flipping, the low price allows you to lock in high profits. Also, you can flip the home more easily because you do not have to list it for as much in order to make the same profit margin.

Furthermore, the money you save on the initial purchase can be invested in the home to make it more attractive to you and your family, as well as anyone you sell it to later.

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