REOs are offered "as is," which means that your responsibility to protect yourself (read: chance of getting hurt financially) are higher than on regular resale properties.
How do you know what a reasonable market value is in the neighborhood? How do you know what similar properties sold for (both regular resale and REO)? How do you know what asking price is reasonable given the market, neighborhood, and problems with the REO? If buying for investment, do you know what the cost will likely be to fix the damage? Do you know whether purchase price + cost to fix = profit given the comparable on-market and sales prices?
Since buyer agency is free to you (your agent is paid by the commission paid to the listing brokerage), why in the world would you not use an agent? The listing brokerage is getting, say 6%, and it will be paid 6% regardless of whether you use a buyer's agent or not. The listing brokerage is offering, say 3%, to buyer agents. So, again, why not avail yourself of their services?
Are you thinking you will be able to put in a lower offer because the seller won't pay as much commission if you do not have a buyer agent? Wrong. The bank owes the listing brokerage the entire commission.
If ever there was a risky property to buy, if you don't know what you are doing and are not using an agent, it is a REO.
Massachusetts requirements to be a real estate agent: "submit proof satisfactory to the board that he has completed courses in real estate subjects approved by the board, such courses to total twenty-four classroom hours of instruction"
A painting license requires four years of on the job experience.
Many people have unwarranted self confidence, and think that they understand the risks, but they do not.
Very, very few people (by the way, including a fair number of real estate agents) have any experience at all with REO properties. The public thinks that they should buy a REO because it is a regular property (condition, etc.) but just much cheaper. Overwhelmingly not true. They think they know how to buy a non-REO house (also, in my experience, not true), and they just think a REO is a cheaper version because the owner is in desperate circumstances.
Painting a bedroom isn't even slightly equivalent to buying a house, and a licensed painter isn't even slightly equivalent to a licensed real estate agent.
Again, a buyer does always need a buyer's agent to represent their interests and protect them.
Although the French is lovely, the statement is untrue. You do not need a buyers agent if you are comfortable with the transaction yourself. If you are not comfortable, than you may benefit from a buyers agent, but you do not need one.
A licensed painter will tell you that you should not paint your bedroom by yourself, but if you are comfortable doing so, and know the risks, go ahead and paint.
Be careful, there are alot of REO's these days but some sit for a while uncared for this will help on the price but remember if they didnt winterize properly there could be water damage or the big word of the day...MOLD
Think ahead and get someoen who will work for you!