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How does one find out about foreclosures?


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We are looking for some property to buy. Why do the listings I see for foreclosures not give an address and seem to require paying for a list, and possibly involve being connected to a realtor or some similar person? We prefer not to have a realtor represent us.

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You don't have to have a realtor represent you, but most likely the bank with the property will have a realtor representing them. I wouldn't pay for a list. I keep track of properties in my area by looking at the MLS listings. With some experience you'll learn to spot the foreclosures. Also, look for short sales. Most of them end up in foreclosure, if they don't sell.

 

We've actually had success buying foreclosures before the bank list them on the MLS. Word of mouth is the best way to find out about those properties. When a property is going to be foreclosed on---word gets around.

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It's been our experience that many foreclosures don't hit the MLS, or are available prior to being listed. We've successfully used emailforeclosures.com, finding a house a few days before it hit the MLS, much to the surprise of our realtor, and we bought it. Definitely don't pay for listings, and you do not need to go through a realtor to find listings either.

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Most of the foreclosures and short sales in our area give "undisclosed" addresses on MLS because the banks are worried about squatters breaking into vacant homes. So if I couldn't tell from the appearance of the home which subdivision the REO belonged to, I had to call our realtor.

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I've used several sources. Many large banks will list their bank owned properties directly on their website. Try Chase and Bank of America. You can find lists of government owned properties from this website. Each link takes you to a different list where you can filter.

 

Many forclosed properties are listed with real estate agents. If you don't have an agent representing you, then you'll likely have to contact the agent directly to see them or get more information. You can also contact the larger banks directly, who may have a dedicated employee to work with someone purchasing their property. I've seen some properties listed by non-profits. The organizations are getting property donations because the tax advantage to the owner is better than selling at a lower price. I've seen some listed on Craigslist.

 

One more avenue is to watch for auctions. There are so many properties owned by govt agencies now that are being sold at auction for ridiculously low prices. Good luck in your search!

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If you want to see what's coming up for auction soon, see the website of your county's Public Trustee. They are usually easily searchable by zip code, etc. If you see something in the neighborhood you want, just google the address to find out more about the property (zillow, etc.). Around here, the vast majority of properties are bought by the bank at auction because there were no other takers. Then the bank will usually list the property with a realtor. However, there are some larger banks that have their own REO department and do not list through the MLS. Either way, the bank is usually just looking to cover what they were owed, or what they bought the property for at auction - both numbers should be available on the Public Trustee website. Many times they'll take less, sometimes a lot less, to be rid of it. It's possible to buy an unlisted property from a bank though I really don't know more - if you found one you were interested in, I think a call to their REO department might help answer some questions.

 

As someone else said, I would not pay any website (e.g. the pay option on RealtyTrac) when all the info is publicly available already - it just requires a little more effort.

 

Also try the library - there are several decent books on buying foreclosures (Foreclosures for Dummies, that sort of thing).

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