3) Wait more
4) Wait a little more
5) They ignore or counter your offer
I know you're wondering why I would reply that way and I definitely don't mean to be sarcastic but I would avoid them if you're pressed for time; if time is on your side then go for it.
Bank REO's are bank owned properties. Now ask yourself when was the last time you found an error in your checking statement and tried to get it corrected? Hard wasn't it? Now you can better understand you're dealing with a faceless institution where your 'needs' and 'wants' are irrelevant and the process is paramount. Add to that the magnitude of paper work involved and you may begin to see the picture.
I love REO's as they offer my clients great value and with a lot less hassle and risk than a foreclosure. As an agent representing my buyer, I'm in constant contact with the listing agent pushing things along. I then keep my buyer in the loop, reducing their anxiety and about six weeks later give them a nice closing gift with a key to their new home.
Bank owned properties typically take longer to process through a sale because there are many layers of approval. Because there is an influx of REO properties on the market, many REO departments are overwhelmed with contracts. There are some deals to be had with these types of properties but consult with a REO Realtor expert to understand the nuances of buying one of these homes.
The property is normally sold AS IS meaning that any repairs will be passed on to you as a buyer. It is also important to have an appraisal and confirmation of clear title on the property. If you believe the house is the right deal it may very well be worth paying the home inspection fee to know about any repairs up front. This is the cost of jumping into the REO market but can also prove to be a great deal compared to the up front costs.