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How to Find Foreclosures

Finding Foreclosures and Government-Seized Homes


Condo For Sale Foreclosure Jake Wyman/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
Finding foreclosures is fairly easy in depressed markets, but it's also simple to find foreclosures in strong real estate markets. The difference between the two markets is you will find a greater number of foreclosures in falling real estate markets.

Many pre-foreclosure homes that were once offered as short sales end up as foreclosures, which are eventually deeded to the bank. The reason why purchasers may refuse to buy a short sale home could be any of the following:

Not every foreclosure is a great bargain and some can morph into unexpected nightmares. There are drawbacks to buying foreclosures. Some foreclosed homes are diamonds waiting to be polished. Inexperienced foreclosure buyers might want to hire a real estate agent for guidance and assistance.

Here are places you can find foreclosures:

Real Estate Agents

The top producing agent in Sacramento specializes in listing foreclosures. I know who he is because I know how to enter the search values in MLS to bring up all the foreclosures. Consumers do not enjoy direct access to MLS like agents.

You can ask your buyer's agent to search for REOs and when you recognize a listing agent's name over and over, pull up that agent's profile and look at his or her listings. You will probably find a ton of foreclosures at your fingertips this way.

Real Estate Signs

Driving through neighborhoods where you want to buy is another great way to find foreclosures. The riders on the sign posts might say:

  • Foreclosure

  • Bank-Owned

  • Bank Repo

Call the agent's whose name is on the sign and inquire about other foreclosure listings that may be coming on the market. Agents who specialize in foreclosures sometimes wait weeks while bank management approves the list price, so you can get a jump on other buyers by asking about new foreclosures not yet listed.

If you are working with a buyer's agent, you can ask your agent to get this information for you.

Major bank Web sites

Many banks maintain online lists of foreclosed properties. Here are a few national lenders who maintain Web sites of bank-owned properties:

Asset Management Companies

Some lenders hire an asset management company to handle foreclosures on the lender's behalf.

Government Agencies

Some government agencies require you to retain the services of a real estate broker to make an offer to purchase. Others will let you submit offers on your own. Read each site for more information.

Auction Houses

Auction companies hold huge auctions, sometimes selling as many as 100 homes or more in a single day. While many experts agree that auction companies often get higher prices due to the auction frenzy created among its bidders, sometimes you can find a gem in their inventory.

Internet Foreclosure Companies

Web-based foreclosure companies charge a fee for providing you with a list of foreclosure properties. They reason that it takes time, trouble and expertise to locate and assemble accurate national foreclosure lists. You may find it is worth it to let these companies search for you:

  • Foreclosure.com
  • Realty Trac

    At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

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