What does Bank Owned or REO property mean?

A REO stands for Real Estate Owned which really means the home is Bank Owned.  A Bank Owned home is a home post-foreclosure.  Meaning the bank has already foreclosed on the seller and now the bank owns the home.

The Pro’s

Buying a bank owned home is as close to a normal sale as a buyer can get when working with distressed properties. ¬†The pro – quick response time. ¬†When submitting an offer on a bank owned property the buyer can expect to get a response within a week – and once the offer is accepted the escrow period is like any normal transaction. ¬†A buyer is granted their contingency periods that start the day after the offer is accepted. ¬†It’s a breath of fresh air for a buyer since short sales are slow and painful. ¬†Because bank owned homes are smooth transactions for the most part – we do see them move off the market much quicker than the dreaded short sale.

The Con’s

Buying a bank owned home means one thing Рno real disclosures.  Sometimes it even means the home is in various forms of neglect.  The bank, having never lived in the home, does not provide the buyer with the disclosures a normal seller would provide.  The two most interesting reads not provided by the bank, aside from inspection reports, are the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) and the Seller Supplemental Checklist (SSC).  These two standardized forms ask the seller a myriad of questions covering neighborhood nuisances and issues with the home.   The bank does however need to provide the buyer with the California State Mandatory Disclosures, one of which is the Natural Hazards Report which covers natural hazards around that particular property.

How This Affects the Buyer

Banks require an¬†As-Is¬†sale. ¬†This is typical of many sales. ¬†As-Is¬†means as disclosed. ¬†However, since the bank has no personal knowledge of the home – it is hard to disclose the potential issues. ¬†Since the disclosures are weak, the burden is placed on the buyer to investigate. ¬†As Realtors we cannot¬†attest¬†to the¬†condition of the¬†property or neighborhood¬†– but we do encourage the buyer to seek professional opinions. ¬†Some buyers visit the local police department and ask candid questions, I’ve even had buyers door knock the surrounding homes to speak to their potential neighbors.

As for the condition of the home – that’s the easy part. ¬†As in any buying transaction, the buyer will have contingency periods to do all their inspections at which point we’ll get the home, pest and roof inspector out to check out the home and provide the buyer with a written report. ¬†The buyer can do any inspections they want, from lead to asbestos, to truly anything that is of concern to them and for¬†their plans for the property¬†– pretty much just like any other buying transaction. ¬†The only downfall – if issues arise – often times the bank does no repairs.

How We Go About All This

Since these transaction are so cut and dry, before we sit down to write the offer with our buyers, all parties take a good hard look at the property to determine the buyers offer price.  A buyer does not perform their inspections prior to writing the offer because a home, pest and roof inspection costs upwards of $500.  After the offer is accepted, the buyer will pay for their inspections and we proceed from there.

Generally, the buyer knows what they are getting into.  Often times these homes are in states of neglect and may be missing key fixtures or appliances.  In the end, both the buyer and their Realtor take all of this into account and write their best offer.

For more tips on writing an offer on a bank owned home – stay tuned!

Got Questions?  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

Writing a Great Offer

I’d like to share some tips on writing an offer. ¬†It’s the bread and butter of what we Realtors do.

Before I begin, these scenarios are for real life, breathing sellers WITH equity in their home.  Stay tuned for strategies on writing an offer on a short sale property or a bank owned property.

Searching for the right home is fun – getting the home you want – now that’s my job. ¬†But it takes the buyer and Realtor working together to be successful.

Writing an offer can be very difficult for some buyers. ¬†The pressure and stress of signing their name to the line can cause a buyer to get cold feet, sweaty palms and break out in hives. ¬†It doesn’t need to be that stressful. ¬†The biggest hurdle I notice for buyers is choosing their offer price.

Please note, as professional Realtors we cannot tell the buyer the amount they should offer.  Realtors, such as The Caton Team will provide the buyer with a comparative market analysis to show the buyer the value of homes in the area compared to their chosen home Рthis information will help the buyer decided their offer price.  A buyer must come up with their price on their own and feel comfortable with their price.

To be frank Рprice is almost always the most important aspect of any offer.  If the price is right for both parties Рit can be smooth sailing.  However, there are several other aspects of an offer that also weighs in Рthe terms of a contract.  For instance, what is the time frame to close escrow? Generally close of escrow is a 30 day window.  Can the buyer close sooner?  Sometimes a seller likes that.  Sometimes a seller may need more time in the home after close of escrow Рso a buyer could rent back the property to the seller either at fair market rent or perhaps even free.  How long are the buyer’s loan and property condition contingencies?  A very competitive offer will have a short window for contingencies.

Writing an offer is serious business.  So serious in fact that for the offer to be considered legitimate Рit needs consideration.  Consideration is a fancy word for money.  The money comes as a buyers good faith deposit (which is part of their down-payment), generally 3% of their offer price which is put in our office safe until the offer is accepted.   In fact the purchase contract is also a receipt for the good faith deposit.

When a buyer sits down to write an offer Рthey must be serious about buying the home and committed to seeing the sale through and closing the escrow.  To be frank Рif  a buyer is just fishing for a price and does not care whether or not they get the home РPLEASE be upfront and honest with the Realtor.  There are offer strategies for each buyer’s scenario.  Upfront, honest communication is the essence of a healthy Buyer/Seller and Realtor relationship and the only way to attain the client’s personal goals.

On that note, getting the home a buyer wants is truly a meeting of the minds between both buyer and seller.  Very very very rarely have I seen the strong arm approach succeed in OUR local market.  The offer and subsequent counter offers are a method to find that happy middle where both the seller wants and can sell their home and the buyer wants and can purchase the home.

First, a buyer needs to consider what they are up¬†against. ¬†Are they the only offer? ¬†Are there multiple offers? ¬†Has the seller chosen an offer date – where all offers are due and reviewed in one shot? ¬†Don’t worry – this is where The Caton Team shines.

Let’s cover each situation since it warrants its own game plan. ¬†What does it take to write a good offer?


This is a buyer and Realtors dream.  Being the only offer Рthe buyer has the opportunity to write an offer in their favor (within reason).  Being the only offer, takes the edge off the buyer to come in with their highest price and best terms offer.  It can possibly result in a few counter offers back and forth to find that happy medium between buyer and seller.  During the boom Рbeing the only offer was a pipe dream.  Surprisingly, as our local San Francisco Peninsula market recovers Рbeing the only offer is still rare on choice homes.  Given the opportunity remember that buying a home is finding a happy medium between all parties Рso come in with a fair market price offer to reflect the homes location and condition is always a good starting point.  Coming in too low Рand well Рyou just might anger the sellers and get just about nowhere.


A multiple offer situation is when there are several offers coming in on one house and generally the Listing Agent (Realtor to the Seller) will have an offer due date, where all offers must be submitted at that time and then presented to the seller all in one shot.

Here comes the tricky part. ¬†As professional Realtors the Caton Team is proactive and like any good Realtor – will call the Listing Agent to get the scoop. ¬†I introduce myself to the Listing Agent the second I get wind my buyers are¬†interested. ¬†This helps me¬†gauge¬†the¬†activity¬†around the home so I can advise my¬†clients best. ¬†As Listing Agents, we rarely know exactly how many offers are coming in. ¬†We generally gauge the interest by how many disclosure packages are out. ¬†As you may recall from previous blogs – whenever possible the Buyers Agent will get any and all upfront disclosures from the Listing Agent. ¬†The Listing Agent keeps tabs on how many disclosure packages are out and informs the Buyers Agents. ¬†It’s not an exact science, but we make it work.

Another key factor to consider is the sellers motivation for the sale.  We take the time to find out why they are selling and as Buyers Agents we call the Listing Agent to ask some questions.  Some of out top questions are:  Does the seller have to sell?  Or is the seller looking for the right price in order to sell?  Is the property their personal residence or was it an investment property?  Is the property upside down Рin other words Рis the property a potential short sale where the lenders cooperation is necessary to actually close escrow?  Is their a family crisis or sadly a divorce that is forcing the sale?  Each bit of information we can get upfront helps our buyers with their decisions.    And understanding both involved parties can bridge the gap.

So the offer due date is set – now we hit the table and write the offer. ¬†Suddenly the buyer is feeling some pressure. ¬†Several people like “their” house and in order to get the house the buyer truly must put their best foot forward. ¬†Now, what does that mean? ¬†That means writing, literally, your best offer – the offer you can stand behind and say – “This is my best offer – and if I do not get this house for my price…. then the other buyer paid too much!” ¬† If a buyer cannot say that about their offer – than they are not putting their best foot forward and the buyer may not get the house – or even a chance to be considered.

The flip side.  A buyer writes a low offer Рhoping for a counter offer Рor just praying the other buyers move on.  Then they find out the home sold for way more and the buyers offer was left in the dust.

As Listing Agents in a multiple offer situation with 10 offers in hand, the seller cannot and generally will not counter each offer.  The lowest offers are often set aside and if there are a couple similar offers, the seller may opt to counter those Рbut if one offer shines better than the rest Рnow a days Рthe seller will take the best offer and not bother countering anyone else.  Like I said, to be truly part of the negotiations, a buyer must come in with their best foot forward Рotherwise Рsadly Рthey are left in the dust.

No matter the situation the buyer faces, The Caton Team is poised to work through the maze. ¬†With over 20 years combined Real Estate¬†experience there isn’t a hurdle we cannot tackle. ¬†With so many variables, each offer¬†truly¬†becomes a world in itself. ¬†Each home is unique for their location, condition and¬†amenities. ¬†The task of weighing all the options can be daunting but we are here to help.

Got Questions?  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

Follow my personal journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/


A Cinderella Story…Nisi and Rip

UPDATE РNisi and Rip just celebrated their 4th Anniversary at their home.  Keeps getting better.
In this blog series I have entitled “A Cinderella Story” – I plan on¬†reminiscing¬†on some tough transactions with some very happy endings.
Let’s go back a couple of years before CA Real Estate took the dive. ¬†My very first friend from college Nisi (we met in math class our first day) and her boyfriend Rip were ready to buy their first home. ¬†Armed with their pre-approval from Melanie Flynn, we headed out to the East Bay to find their future home. ¬†Flash forward through all the junky homes we checked out to “the one”. ¬†The one, I might add, they found at 2am the day it came on the market. ¬†At a more reasonable time in the morning my friends called me with¬†excitement¬†ready to go. ¬†With the help of the Listing Agents we got them in to see the home right away, since I’m pretty sure they were standing outside when they called me. ¬†But I know why.¬†¬†It was a beauty. ¬†A pristine and loved Art Deco Bungalow all fixed up for sale. ¬†It was their dream home! ¬†The moment they saw it, the moment we saw it – we all knew –¬†it was the one. ¬†And The Caton Team was going to do everything we could to make this happen.
The rest has turned into a blur over the years so let’s jump ahead. ¬†Their offer was accepted. ¬†That night we all popped champagne even though it wasn’t theirs yet. ¬†Don’t worry – we didn’t jinx it – it’s the power of positive thinking. ¬†So, the next day the fun begins, the clock starts ticking for their loan and property condition contingencies. ¬†Thank goodness Nisi’s uncle was a home inspector who came at a moments notice and did an awesome job checking out the house. ¬†Rip even climbed under the house to check his own foundation. ¬†I will never do that – I am scared of small spaces and spiders!
The home had its issues for an 80-year-old place, but our friends and clients knew they could handle it. ¬†Next came the FHA¬†appraisal. ¬†Let’s just say the FHA¬†appraisers¬†did as¬†thorough¬†a job as the home and pest¬†inspectors. ¬†Everything was running smoothly, we had one day left on our contingencies and we waited on pins and needles for the banks ok.
Then the¬†news story¬†broke. ¬†Front page news, I still have the copy of the paper. ¬†Parts of the East Bay had depreciated enough in value that banks we no longer lending. ¬†It’s called red-lining – and they’re not supposed to do it – but they did. ¬†It was the¬†beginning¬†of what would be our Real Estate decline. ¬†‘Cept nobody knew it yet. ¬†Suddenly their bank did not commit on the loan and our friends and clients were at stake. ¬†As I recall, it was a $25,000 difference in¬†value¬†from one day to the next, all over one news headline.
So we got on the phone and had a heart to heart. ¬†Weighed the pro’s and con’s and my friends and clients still wanted this house.¬†¬†We wanted them to have this house –¬†it was meant to be theirs. ¬†So we came up with a plan. ¬†We wrote a letter on behalf of our clients explaining to the seller and their agents what had¬†occurred¬†with their home loan, my friends wrote a letter about how much they loved this house and how much love they wanted to put in it. ¬†We also asked to reduce our offer price by the difference, $25,000. ¬†It was a bold move for 2 four-eyed Realtors. ¬†(haha True Grit reference). ¬†To this day, our lender Melanie is still impressed we negotiated the price down after the offer was accepted. ¬†That doesn’t happen!
Turns out the sellers loved the buyers, the Listing Agents happen to be the next door neighbors and the $25,000 difference didn’t matter so much if they were going to truly love their home (a home the sellers had lived in for ages). ¬†It helped that The Caton Team are strong¬†negotiators¬†and we even sent a copy of that newspaper too. ¬†Either way, in the end my mother’s old adage still applies. ¬†What’s meant to be is meant to be. ¬†Doesn’t hurt if you put a little effort in it too.

Congratulations Rip & Nisi – many more happy years in your beautiful home!

This is a picture of the day we handed them they keys!  It the favorite part of my job!  Champagne is chilling Рlet me know when you are ready.

Got Questions? РThe Caton Team is here to help.  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

How To Read Disclosures

Congratulations –¬† you‚Äôve found a home you‚Äôd like to write an offer on.¬† This is very exciting!¬† The first step before writing an offer is to review the disclosures that have been provided by the seller in advance (if given the¬†opportunity).¬† Here are the instructions on how to go about reviewing the disclosures package & preparing yourself to write an offer.

1. Grab a highlighter, pen, paper & post-it notes.

2. You will need to read & review the entire disclosure package before we get together.

3. We will review your questions & concerns before we write an offer & answer them as best we can & make notes to ask the seller, inspectors & the listing agent during your contingency period.

4. Please DO NOT WRITE on the disclosures Рit is OK to use a highlighter.  Write you questions & concerns on a separate piece of paper & use post-it notes.

5.¬†As you read each page, most forms will have a ‚ÄúBuyers Initials‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúBuyers Signature‚ÄĚ at the bottom of each page.¬† PLEASE SIGN & INITIAL WHERE REQUESTED after you have read & reviewed the page.¬† Please note – regardless if you ‚Äúlike or dislike‚ÄĚ what you are reading – you will need to initial & sign where necessary.¬† The purpose of the disclosures package is to inform you of any known defects upfront.¬† How we (your buyers agents & you) go about repairing/correcting said issues is part of the contract & negotiations.

6.¬†You will need to sign ALL upfront disclosures before we write the offer ‚Äď doing so in advance will shave 1 to 2 hours from our appointment.¬† Giving us more time to discuss your options.

7. Once we’ve discussed your questions & concerns you can make an educated decision on how much you want to offer & what issues you want clarified or corrected.

8. Please allow 2-4 hours for our offer appointment.

9. Bring the signed Disclosure Package to our appointment.

Please Bring With You the Following:

  • Copy of you Bank Statement showing Proof of Down Payment & Closing Costs
  • Loan Approval Letter
  • CHECK BOOK!!!!!¬† Please remember that your good faith deposit of up to 3% of the Purchase Price must be available funds

Got Questions РThe Caton Team is here to help.  Email us @  Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

To read my personal journey through homeownership Рvisit http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/  Enjoy!