On a subzero Saturday morning, a few hundred people gathered at the Ramada Inn in Bloomington for a seminar on buying bank-owned homes. MinnesotaREO, a group consisting of realtors, home inspectors, and lenders, provided information for homebuyers and investors on purchasing foreclosed properties.
MinnesotaREO is a collaboration between realtors from Epic Realty, RE/MAX, Realty House, Keller Williams Premier Realty, and RE/MAX Results, who have teamed with Wells Fargo, Lake Area Mortgage, and Countrywide to provide resources and services for those interested in taking advantage of a market flooded with bank-owned properties. This past Saturday, the group offered a free seminar in Bloomington which attracted both investors and home-buyers.
Glad that hot coffee was on its way, people milled around the small trade show, talking with exhibitors about available properties and different types of financing. Others found seats and watched as photos of recently listed homes, ranging in price from $29,000 to upwards of half a million dollars, were projected on a large screen at the front of the room.
It did not take long to hear about how the subprime lending crisis has produced a feeding frenzy for investors, but there was little focus on the people who have lost their homes due to unscrupulous lending practices. Mike Olson from Keller Williams Premier Realty tried to turn it around by saying in his introduction, “It sounds like the world’s falling apart, but we would tell you that it’s just the opposite. We’re having a lot of fun out there right now—real estate sales are great and things are wonderful.”
Speakers said MinnesotaREO did not offer the seminar for the purpose of selling properties or products to those eager to take advantage of the market. Instead, Olson said, they wanted to get back to doing real estate the old-fashioned way and got together to teach people about the foreclosure process and to offer tips and resources to help people understand various financing options and purchase bank-owned properties without falling victim to predatory lenders.
While the group offered a separate session for those looking to buy a home for themselves, most people attended the session for investors, and the audience varied greatly in age and experience. Seasoned investors and young couples pursuing investment properties for the first time, had many questions about the stipulations that come with various types of loans and how to maximize profits when purchasing a property for rehabilitation and resale.
Mortgage specialists from Wells Fargo and Countrywide were able to provide answers to the audience’s questions about financing without coming off as salesmen, and the realtors seemed genuinely enthused to provide advice on how to choose an agent or pick apart a deal, delivering their messages with a minimal amount of self-promotion.
The presenters emphasized the need to have a good team of professionals you can trust when pursuing an investment property, including a buyer’s agent, loan officer, home inspector, contractor, and an accountant. They also stressed that there are more than just single-family homes on the market, and duplexes and apartment buildings can be great investments because foreclosures are producing more renters every day.
Participants came away with an improved understanding of bank-owned properties and real-estate investment, along with a handout citing a dozen websites with free access to foreclosed property listings and even more tips for investors and homebuyers.
Kristen Scobie works in property management for a non-profit affordable housing provider in the Twin Cities that serves low-income families.