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Other Real Estate Owned (OREO)


Other Real Estate Owned (OREO) refers to real estate property owned by a bank but not directly related to its business. It often comes from bank repossessions during foreclosures or from properties surrendered to the bank in lieu of foreclosure. Essentially, it represents a financial institution’s non-performing assets.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Other Real Estate Owned (OREO)” is:Other – /ˈʌðər/Real – /riːl/Estate – /ɪˈsteɪt/Owned – /oʊnd/OREO – /ˈɔːriːoʊ/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Definition: Other Real Estate Owned (OREO) is a term used by financial institutions to classify real estate properties they own as a result of foreclosures or repossessions. These properties were previously held as collateral for unpaid loans.
  2. Record Keeping: Banks and financial institutions maintain OREOs as separate line items on their balance sheets due to regulations that require clear tracking and handling of these assets. This provides transparency and allows regulatory bodies to monitor the bank’s management of such properties.
  3. Risk Management: OREOs present significant financial risk. While they may provide potential revenue through eventual sale or rental, they also carry costs including maintenance, property taxes and potential depreciation in property value. Therefore, good risk management practices are essential in dealing with OREOs.



Other Real Estate Owned (OREO) is an important term in business/finance as it refers to property owned by a bank or a lending institution that is not related to the typical operations of the business. These properties are usually acquired through foreclosure after a borrower fails to meet their mortgage obligations. The OREO properties can have significant financial implications for the concerned institution. They could represent potential recovery of funds when sold, but also embody ongoing costs (maintenance, taxes, etc.) and the risk of loss if market conditions aren’t favorable. Hence, OREO assets are carefully monitored, as they impact an institution’s financial health and risk profile.


The term “Other Real Estate Owned” (OREO) is primarily used in the business environment, particularly within the financial sector, to denote real estate properties that are not directly connected to the normal business operations of a company, but are owned by the company itself. The property labeled as OREO usually comes into the possession of the company after it has failed to sell at a foreclosure auction following the default of a borrower. The company which typically is a bank or other financial institution, then assumes the role of a real estate owner and is tasked with managing, maintaining, and selling these properties.The chief purpose of classifying certain properties as OREO is to distinguish these non-earning assets from those that the company expects to generate income. OREO properties represent an element of risk for the company, often due to the ongoing expenses associated with upkeep, potential depreciation, and the possible difficulty or delay in selling. However, OREOs may also provide opportunities for the company. With the right management and real estate conditions, the company can convert these seemingly non-performing assets into solid investments by selling them for a profit when property values increase. Thus, the purpose and use of OREO is intrinsically linked to the financial and real estate strategies of a company.


1. Bank-Owned Abandoned Property: A bank may end up owning a home or plot of land because the original owner defaulted on loan obligations. This property would be categorized as OREO until the bank is able to sell it. For example, when the housing market crashed in 2008, many banks ended up owning a large number of homes due to the high rate of foreclosures. These homes came to be part of the bank’s OREO inventory.2. Retail Space: For instance, if a commercial retail space owner defaults on their mortgage and the lending bank forecloses on the property, the bank will then own that retail space and it will be considered an OREO until it is sold off to a new owner. This can often occur in economic downturns when businesses may struggle to make on-time payments.3. Office Buildings: Suppose a company owns an office building and borrows money from a financial institution using the office building as collateral. If the company fails to repay the loan, the lender would seize the building. If the lender is unable to sell the building immediately for the amount due on the loan, the building would be listed as OREO on its balance sheet. This scenario was quite common during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, where many companies went out of business, leaving lenders with a sizable amount of corporate real estate properties.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does Other Real Estate Owned (OREO) refer to?

Other Real Estate Owned (OREO) refers to a real estate property that is owned by a banking institution but is not directly related to the bank’s business activities. These are properties that were originally used as collateral for loans but were acquired by the bank due to foreclosure after the borrower defaulted on the loan.

How does a bank acquire OREO property?

A bank acquires OREO property when a borrower defaults on their loan and the property used as collateral is taken over by the bank through foreclosure. The property is then classified as OREO on the bank’s books.

How does OREO affect a bank’s financial statements?

An increase in OREO on a bank’s balance sheet can indicate financial straits as it suggests an increase in the number of borrowers defaulting on their loans. OREO assets are considered non-performing, meaning they don’t generate income for the bank and can be difficult to sell.

Can a bank sell its OREO properties?

Yes, banks can and often do sell their OREO properties. Selling these non-earning assets allows the bank to recover some of its losses. However, these sales often occur at a discount, resulting in the bank not fully recouping its original loan amount.

Why is OREO management important for banks?

Effective OREO management is important for banks because holding onto these assets can be costly due to maintenance, property taxes, and insurance costs. Proper management helps in minimizing these costs and trying to maximize the recovery of the original loan amount.

How is OREO different from foreclosed properties?

While all OREO properties are foreclosed properties, not all foreclosed properties are OREO. This is because foreclosed properties can be owned by multiple entities, not just banks, depending on who provided the original loan. When specifically owned by a bank post-foreclosure, then they are considered OREOs.

Is OREO a bad sign for a bank’s health?

A high amount of OREO can be a concerning sign about a bank’s health. It indicates a high number of defaulted loans and can tie up significant capital in non-earning assets. However, it’s important to consider other financial factors as well to assess the overall health of the bank.

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