REO Pet Peeves

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For the last three years I’ve been pursuing REO properties that are listed on the MLS, and while it’s been a great run so far, there are definitely some frustrations that come with working in this niche. For those of you who have incorporated the MLS into your acquisition strategy, you probably know what I’m talking about!

Following are my top four pet peeves about working with bank owned properties. Feel free to add to my list if you have some of your own!

Unanswered Phone Calls

I suppose this is not just specific to REO agents, but in any case it drives me crazy! I would estimate that over 60% of the agents who I call to inquire about their listings do not answer their phones or return voice mail messages. This perplexes me, especially since I do not work with a buyer’s agent, so when I make my offers I am giving away both sides of the commission to the listing agent.  (Apparently I am not the only one who has experienced this phenomena- Julie Broad wrote a great article last week expressing a similar sentiment).

Three words I have come to despise: Highest and Best

The REO market has become increasingly competitive over the last three years. It’s gotten to the point that where it’s pretty much a waste of time to put in an offer on a newly listed property that is priced aggressively, because 99% of the time, the agent will come back with a response similar to this….”We already have 700 offers on this property (even though it’s only been on the market for twelve minutes), please submit your highest and best offer by noon tomorrow.”

Oops, I Meant to Change that to Pending!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve submitted offers on bank owned properties only to have the listing agent contact me immediately after my offer has been submitted to tell me the property is already under contract (even though it is listed in the MLS as active). The logical solution to this problem would be to simply make a phone call to the listing agent before making the offer, however, it’s close to impossible to get them on the phone (see above).

Key Stealers

Like I mentioned above, the REO market has gotten very competitive over the last couple of years, and as a result, some of the wholesalers and investors have resorted to playing dirty pool.  One common strategy is to get to a newly listed property as soon as it hits the market, steal the key out of the lock box so no one else can get inside to look at it, and then submit an offer in hopes that it will get accepted before the key can be replaced.

There’s nothing more aggravating than driving out to look at a property only to find that the key has been stolen out of the lock box!

So there you have it- those are my top four pet peeves about dealing with bank owned properties. If you have any of your own that you’d like to add to the list- feel free to leave a comment below!


About Author

Formerly a bartender, Steph Davis is now a full time wholesaler in Tampa, FL. If you'd like to get an idea of what it's really like out there in the trenches, head on over to her blog:!


  1. LOL! Ok, let me add a little to the fun here. Another pet peeve is the long addendum that many REO agents want you to submit along with your offer. If you’re making a number of offers, this becomes pretty laborious. Fortunately, not everyone expects you to complete all of the paperwork and some make it REALLY easy to just fill out a basic form that isn’t even a purchase and sale contract.

    • I should have added that one to the article!

      Those addenda drive me up the wall. Especially when I take 12 hours to fill one out, then as soon as I send it off the agent calls and says it’s already under contract.


  2. Steph, great post
    The topic of follow up and unanswered phone calls has become big. I also face that daily and can say it might be more around 70-80% for me when I call and noone answers there darn phone! 🙂 I am faced with “should I leave a message or not” all the time. Even if someone is trying to sell me something I dont want, I still give the courtesy to answer the phone and be straight up with them.

    • Hey Matt,

      I’ve recently stopped leaving messgaes with agents because they rarely call back. Instead, I just keep blowing up their phone until they get irritated enough and answer it.

      Never underestimate the power of irritating the crap out of someone. It’s a very powerful technique. 🙂

  3. Great post, Steph!

    60% is a big number of the agents not returning calls, that could get annoying! I guess the funny thing is that I find in my experience there’s a small amount of listing agents who actually do the bulk of the listings. It’s only going to be a matter of time until it kind of becomes a running joke (Hi, did you get my call? What’s going on?), I’m sure you know a lot of them in your area!!

    I guess one of my pet peeves working the REOs is the amount of paperwork involved, especially when the offer comes back needing a couple other addendums. When I’ve gone the REO route in the past, I’ve actually found myself surrounded with stacks and stacks of papers (aka offers) – it drove my crazy!

    Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the post!

    • Hey Rachel,

      Yeah, I usually have a ginormous stack of papers all over the place, mostly consisting of the lengthy bank addenda.

      I guess it just comes with the territory, but it’s still annoying!

      Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  4. What a great post!! The “pending” thing and the stolen keys would REALLY frustrate me for sure. I can’t believe that!! I guess that is the big draw back for people getting to know the REO lock box codes. And I am sure some people just forget and leave the key in the door sometimes (our real estate agent almost did that yesterday until Dave pointed it out!!).

    I have to say this really isn’t just about bank owned properties – except the lock box key thing – it’s a problem with real estate professionals in general across North America. Times can’t be that tough for folks if they aren’t returning calls!! At least that is what I think. When I am hungry I hustle. That’s the bottom line!! The good news for the folks that do return calls is that they are in the minority and we should all tell our friends about those people!!

    Oh & thanks for the shout out about my article last week!! 🙂

  5. Steph –
    This year we’ve made a big time push for REO’s so I can relate to pet peave #2 “highest and best”. It seems like most of the agents intentionally do this to please the banks. Our most recent “highest and best” situation was on a deal that was priced very aggressive. We got a phone call from one of our realtors on the team, and we were able to get an the offer accepted by the bank at the listing price. But….they wanted a whopping $5,000 down for earnest money. That was a first for us. Later that day we find out that property is went into a highest and best situation. So frustrating! But it is a numbers game, and there will always be another deal down the street.

    Thanks for sharing,


  6. A peeve that goes unsaid is people being in the business of buying up distressed real estate, often for cash, often with a group of buyers only to sell it again a short time later to make a profit. No interest in the property as a home. Putting in ‘strategic’ cosmetic changes so it looks more valuable than it is. Pricing first time home buyers like my son out of the market for a real home. Or renting it to him at a kited price because he can’t find a place to buy. And with these conditions, why is the house under water?

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