REO stands for "real estate owned." These are properties in which the bank took possession of the property to sell because they didn't sell at Auction due to the foreclosure. These homes are discounted between 10-20% less than market value. Some REO homes will be in very good condition and some will need an extreme amount of repairs and updates. It is recommended you work with a licensed agent who will refer a licensed contractor or inspector to assess the repairs necessary to estimate the cost of repairs or replacement needed to make a decision on proceeding with an offer.
Foreclosures and REO's are not required to disclose much about the condition as a traditional homeowner would, since the bank has no knowledge of the property. Therefore relying on professionals to carefully inspect the property and your agent to conduct a review of the title history is critical because it is a "Buyer Beware" transaction and can be a long process. The most important thing in finding a foreclosure property is working with a real estate agent highly skilled in these negotiations and communicating to the buyer of what lies ahead.