If you’ve ever wondered why we’re drowning in REO properties, it could be that banks are stupid.  No, I shouldn’t say that.  Let’s rephrase that more politely to read, “People in banks who make decisions about liquidating foreclosed properties perhaps lack any trace of common sense.”   See if you agree.

Last night I received an email from the asset manager in charge of one of my foreclosure listings.  In case you aren’t familiar with the lingo, the asset manager is often an employee of a third party company that is assigned bulk REOs by a bank.  It is his/her job to hire a Realtor to market the individual properties, act as an intermediary between the Realtor with the listing and the bank, and get the properties sold as quickly as possible for the most money. It is a stressful, high-pressure job.

I like the asset manager on this deal, and so far we’ve worked well together.  I’ve been waiting though for her to open escrow on a sale they approved early last week….an all cash offer of over $300K on a home that needs more than $50K in repairs.  The buyer is ready to close, and I can’t understand the hold-up.  So my asset manager sends me the following email, “We have an issue on this one. The offer is $80 under what I can accept. And no I am not kidding. Is the buyer willing to come up $80?”

$80 dollars????  Are you kidding me?  On a $300K all cash deal?  Geez! I’ll write the check myself!  Let’s just get it done!  So this is what we’re dealing with….a system that is so screwed-up that the person in charge of unloading foreclosed homes doesn’t have the authority to waive $80 bucks!  Sigh.  It’s going to be a long road back to a ‘normal’ real estate market…..

In an underwhelming report issued this week by Field Asset Services, the company revealed that people would rather buy a foreclosure that has new paint, carpet and appliances than a foreclosed home that has not been spruced-up.  Really?

Field Asset Services is a Texas based company that provides cleaning and rehab services to banks and companies holding REO properties.  In an independent study during the first half of 2010, 17,252 properties were tracked across 13 states.  The homes that were not rehabilitated were on the market for an average of 222 days while those that were rehabbed sold in 69 days.

The benefits are obvious.  Not only do banks cut their expenses associated with holding a property but neighborhood values are also improved by reducing the number of vacant homes.  It is also more likely that the home will be sold for more and bought by someone who is going to live in it versus an investor looking for a flip.  Everyone wins.

So at a cost of only $4000 – $8000 for the average rehab, why aren’t more banks willing to put some lipstick on the pig?  I wish I knew the answer to that one!  I was assigned a foreclosure listing back in September.  In early December, the bank finally got around to asking me for quotes to rehab the place.  I supplied 2 quotes at roughly $4200 each…..and I’m still waiting.   They won’t let me list the condo in the MLS, and won’t let me sell it to an investor…..because they’re still trying to decide if fixing the place is worth it!  Crazy!  And people wonder why there is a glut of REOs on the market?  I say slap on the make-up and get ‘em movin’!