In many cases, the loan servicer doesn't own the property; and banks, in general, do not employ real estate licensees and a real estate license is required to sell properties other than your own. The exception would be that in many states, attorneys are able to do this, although they can not market the properties in many states.
Aside from the legalities involved, properties owned by banks that have stockholders, boards of directors and are gathering up bail out money (who, in turn must answer to the federal government and subsequently the American public) are required to show that they are marketing the property to the highest number of people and negotiating the best deal possible to reduce their financial losses. The way they do that is to list it with a real estate agent for a traditional marketing/listing.
Hope this makes sense.
In addition- the banks are so over burdened now- could you imagine the pandemonium if people were walking into banks- and trying to buy homes from the branches? Keep in mind- they are bankers, not realtors!
Find a good agent in your area- they can help you to find the best deals- and protect your interests!
One question to always ask your REALTOR is how much experience do they have in dealing with REO's?
Hope this helps and good luck in your search. There are many good deals on REO's currently and now is the time to take advance of those deals because the market will turn and the deals will be gone.
Linda F. Reeves-REALTOR-GRI-SRES
ERA Millennium Realty
If you want to know about REO homes that are ones in locations, have amenities, and are in the price range that you are interested, get on a client portal and learn about your market and the values in general. Work with a buyer's agent to look at the properties and learn why the difference in pricing. (Consider yourself Alice in Wonderland...because it's quite and adventure going through bank owned homes in varying levels of disrepair from the previous owners...). If you have exhausted the market of homes currently on the market, then you and your realtor can move on to explore homes that are not currently listed.
By being specific about your needs, what I do with my clients is search for foreclosure homes that have the right location, size and amenities. We determine the bank that owns them, drive by the property to see if it's vacant and the general condition, and then we contact the bank.
It is a long arduous process even then, but much more efficient than the approach that you're considering. There are alot of homes that have not been released to the market.....yet.
While you can't really walk into a bank and make an offer, several banks and loan servicers do have websites listing the properties they have for sale. And some of those have options for buyers to make offers directly to them. They also will show if the property is listed and who to contact. If it is not already listed with a real estate broker you could possibly pay less due to the fact the bank would not be paying a commission.
However, you are probably better off having a real estate agent represent you. A good agent will advise you on the pros and cons of each property you are considering, let you know the current market value of the property(just because it is an reo does not mean it is priced right) and structure the offer to make sure the bank would consider it. Here in my area banks are pricing homes below value to get multiple offers.
If those bankers are smart like this, then they would not get the trouble like that.
Avarice and greed lead them to today's dilemma. Bureaucracy is keeping them getting deeper in the dilemma. I do not know who can bless them. Maybe, is it federal goverment as the money printer?
Anyway, you can not. At lease, in CA, you can not. One of the reasons is because any REO department is not in local branches.