How To Become an REO Listing Agent

Updated June 24, 2022

Real estate agents can specialize in a number of ways, including through the type of client they serve or the type of property they sell. REO listing agents work with a very specific set of properties and must have sufficient knowledge about their sector to perform their jobs well. Understanding what these listing agents do and how to become one can help you plan your own career development.

In this article, we explain what an REO listing agent is, describe what REO listing agents do, provide steps for how to become an REO listing agent, highlight the salary and job outlook for this occupation and offer common skills for REO listing agents.

Related: Real Estate Brokers vs. Agents

What is an REO listing agent?

An REO, or real estate owned, listing agent, sell homes on the behalf of a bank or asset manager after the property goes into foreclosure. A foreclosure occurs when the homeowner cannot make payments on their property, and the bank repossesses the property. At that point, the bank owns the home or lot and enlists the help of an REO listing agent to sell it to a new owner on the bank's behalf. REO listing agents work with buyer's agents to complete transactions and sell the property to a new owner.

Related: How To Become a Commercial Real Estate Agent

What does an REO listing agent do?

REO listing agents perform many of the same job duties as traditional real estate agents, but they do have a few unique duties and responsibilities that apply to their specialty role. Common job duties for REO listing agents include:

  • Preparing documents: Much of an REO listing agent's job involves handling the paperwork between the bank, contractors, maintenance crews and prospective buyers.

  • Representing the bank or asset manager: REO listing agents represent the bank or asset manager who owns the property at meetings with potential buyers and sometimes during closing.

  • Following industry guidelines: The real estate industry has regulations governing the sale of REO properties, so REO listing agents must know and follow these rules.

  • Reviewing applications: Many REO listing agents review potential buyer applications to see if they're qualified to make the purchase.

  • Inspecting properties: Some REO listing agents inspect properties themselves initially, but they also set up and oversee official inspections and appraisals.

  • Managing repairs and maintenance: REO listing agents are often responsible for organizing and managing any necessary repairs and maintenance on the property.

  • Completing BPOs: BPOs, or broker price options, are REO-specific reports that include similar information to a traditional property appraisal. The REO listing agent usually performs the BPO for a property rather than an appraiser.

Related: Pros and Cons of Being a Real Estate Agent

How to become an REO listing agent

If you're interested in working in the REO sector as an REO listing agent, follow these steps to navigate this career path:

1. Finish high school

Real estate agents, including REO listing agents, should have a high school diploma at a minimum. While in high school, focus on math classes like statistics, as you'll work with numbers and calculations regularly in your work in the real estate sector.

2. Consider post-secondary education

Some real estate agents attend traditional college or university before pursuing their real estate license, while others go directly from high school into real estate training. Consider your career ambitions when deciding what's best for you. For example, if you want to operate your own REO real estate agency, you may benefit from a business degree.

3. Earn your real estate license

Check with your state to see what coursework and exams they require to become a licensed real estate agent. Each state's prerequisites differ slightly, but every state requires that real estate agents pass an exam and hold an active license in order to sell properties.

4. Find a real estate position

Once you've obtained your license, look for positions with a real estate company. Most REO listing agents begin their careers by building experience in the field as traditional real estate agents before transitioning to the more complex role of REO listing agent. When looking for jobs, consider agencies that handle REO listings already, so you can learn more about the process and hopefully promote into the role of REO listing agent.

5. Express your interest in REO listings

Let your agency know when you're interviewing and training that you'd like to learn more about REO listings and potentially transition to that role once you have adequate training and experience. This way, your managers and supervisors can help you establish clear career development goals and strategies.

6. Complete advanced training

Look for advanced coursework and training specific to the REO market. The National Association of Realtors often lists state-based training options on its website. Complete the necessary training, so you have the appropriate skills and education to work as an REO listing agent.

7. Register as an REO listing agent

Once you're properly trained, register with your state as a licensed and approved REO real estate agent. You can use this database to help you source potential clients to work with as you begin your REO listing agent career. If you work for an agency that already has REO clients, ask your manager or supervisor about transitioning to those customers.

Related: How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make?

Salary and job outlook

Real estate agents, and REO listing agents in particular, must have specific training, education and skills to complete their jobs effectively. They're often well-compensated for their efforts. According to Indeed, the average real estate agent earns $86,781 per year. REO listing agents', and all real estate agents, income can vary tremendously since most professionals in this field earn commission per sale rather than a flat salary.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't offer job outlook data for REO listing agents specifically, but the overall job outlook for real estate agents generally is 2% growth between 2019 and 2029, which is slower than the average job market.

Related: 10 Tips on How To Succeed as a Real Estate Agent

Skills for an REO listing agent

REO listing agents must have specific skills and qualities in order to perform their jobs well. A few of the most common skills for these real estate professionals include:

  • Location knowledge: REO listing agents must have a solid understanding of the area in which they work, average home prices and other factors that might impact how they represent their client in a sale.

  • Communication abilities: Working with others, including bank employees, prospective buyers and other real estate agents, is a large part of an REO listing agent's job. Clear communication is vital for successful sales.

  • Integrity: Often, REO listing agents work with a broad number of banks and clients. Integrity and reputation are vital for maintaining professional relationships and securing new customers.

  • Persistence: REO listing agents must be persistent in seeking out clientele and ensuring properties are ready for sale.

  • Resilience: Beginning a career as an REO listing agent often takes time and resilience while building a client list and developing the necessary skills to perform the work.

  • Autonomy: Most REO listing agents work relatively autonomously and must be self-directed and motivated professionals.

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