Buying low and selling high is one of the keys to success in the real estate investing business. The most successful real estate moguls figure out early in their careers that foreclosed homes are among the best sources of cheap real estate for sale. If you want to succeed as well and build wealth with real estate, you have to learn how to find foreclosed homes for sale. To help you out, we have put together this beginner’s guide on how to find foreclosures to invest in any US housing market.
1. Live Auctions
Even if you are not an expert real estate investor, house auctions must come to your mind when you start wondering about options for buying foreclosure homes. Indeed, live auctions are the oldest way of buying a foreclosure. They can take place at different locations including at the actual property, in a convention hall, or at the courthouse steps. You can usually find the time and location of courthouse steps auctions as well as other auctions in the public legal notices pages of local newspapers. Some live auctions offer just a single foreclosed home, while others sell a number of properties on the same day. One of the best things about live real estate auctions is that they are public and thus open to everyone – both real estate investors and homebuyers. Another great advantage is that properties there generally tend to sell for 30% to 60% below actual market value, which makes live auctions an excellent source of cheap foreclosures. From a real estate investor’s point of view, the lower the property purchase price, the higher the return on investment in terms of both cap rate and cash on cash return.
However, before you decide to attend a live auction and try to buy an investment property there, you should know a few things. First, be prepared to pay the full price in cash right away if you win the bidding. Even though this price will be below market value, depending on the property type and location, you should still have secured at least a few tens of thousands of dollars in order to buy a foreclosure investment property at an auction. Second, you have to buy the property without a home inspection and as is. Many of these properties will still have the owners living on site, so you can’t really see the inside of the property beforehand. The most you can do is to walk by to take a look at the outside. Generally speaking, the condition of the exterior should be a good indicator of the condition of the interior of a home. Third, real estate professionals tend to dominate live house auctions, while beginner investors usually stand only a minimal chance. Still, if you have the cash, it is worth attending an auction. At the least, you will gain some valuable experience in the real estate industry from the professionals.
2. Online Auctions
What’s another, more up-to-date answer to the question “How to find foreclosures for sale?” Online auctions are a modern twist to the old concept of house auctions which has been enabled by technology. Online house auctions work similarly to live auctions with the important difference that you can be investing in foreclosed homes from the comfort of your home or office, with no need to cross half the country to buy a rental property in a profitable market. Online auctions facilitate out of state real estate investing as the investor does not have to be physically present for the bidding.
Auction websites typically have a hidden reserve price, which is the minimum price that the seller is willing to accept as the winning bid. Meanwhile, a lower minimum price is displayed in order to attract buyers and get them to bid. The bidding for each foreclosure real estate property closes at the scheduled time, and the property will not be sold unless the reserve price has been reached.
To learn more about live and online house auctions, read our blog Real Estate Auctions: Everything You Need to Know.
3. Bank Websites
Is there another way of how to find foreclosures online? Yes, there is. Real estate investors can visit the websites of big national banks as well as small local banks. Most banks’ websites have a special section with listings of their foreclosure homes for sale. Bank foreclosures are properties which failed to sell at an auction and are currently in possession by the lender.
Major nationwide banks will usually have hundreds if not thousands of their own REOs (real estate owned homes, which is basically the same as bank owned properties) in all 50 states. That’s what makes them an excellent resource for investors who can focus on foreclosures in the best real estate markets for buying a rental property. You can find bank owned homes at really discounted rates as lenders are willing to get rid of these houses as long as they get enough money to cover the remainder of the loan.
4. Government Agency Websites
Interested in learning how to find foreclosures which are specifically government-seized homes? Well, then check out the websites of government agencies which provide real estate financing. Here are the best sources of government-owned listings:
- HUD: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development lists foreclosed homes on its website and through local agents. If you would like to buy one of their foreclosures, you just need to contact the real estate agent representing the property.
- Fannie Mae: The Federal National Mortgage Association has foreclosure listings on its website HomePath, where you can conveniently search for properties for sale in a housing market of your choice by the address, the ZIP code, or the MLS number.
- The Department of the Treasury: The U.S. Department of the Treasury offers online listings of properties seized or acquired by the IRS for nonpayment of internal revenue taxes. These properties are sold through auctions.
So, if you are looking for cheap real estate to invest in, don’t forget to visit the 3 websites above. A government-seized property might be what you need to give your real estate career the initial push that it needs.
5. Asset Management Companies
We are continuing our quest of how to find foreclosures online. The next source of foreclosure listings you can search through online is asset management companies. Some lenders choose not to handle REOs on their own but to hand them over to an asset management company. This means that real estate investors, as well as homebuyers looking to buy a foreclosure, should check out these websites. One example is Keystone Asset Management, which partners with different lending institutions across the country to list their foreclosed homes. Another one which you might want to have a look at is Premiere Asset Services, a third-party REO outsourcer operating nationwide. It is a department of the Fargo Wells Bank responsible for the sale of bank owned homes, but it also lists homes owned by other banks.
6. County Office Websites
Another way to find foreclosed homes is to visit the websites of county offices. Foreclosure information is filed with the county offices, and most of them publish the majority of foreclosure listings on their websites. In addition to property information, they also provide the time and location of auctions for selling the property. So, this is a particularly useful online resource if you know which specific county you would like to invest in real estate in.
Here are the 10 best places to invest in real estate in 2019. Knowing them will help direct you to the corresponding county office website to search for foreclosed homes for sale.
7. Real Estate Agents
If you are interested in buying foreclosed homes as investment properties, then you can connect with a local real estate agent in the housing market you are considering. There are a few ways in which agents might be able to help you in your property search. First of all, some agents work with banks and lending institutions to handle the sale of their REOs. So you should look up an agent who does that and follow up with him/her. Moreover, agents are experts on the local housing market in addition to having an extensive real estate network. This means that even if they don’t sell foreclosures, they are familiar with properties nearing or undergoing foreclosure as well as with agents who sell such properties. Third, don’t forget that – unlike you – agents have access to the MLS, where all foreclosures for sale are listed. A real estate agent or broker will be able to check out the MLS and find you an REO in your preferred location. Not to mention that an agent will be able to support you in the process of buying a foreclosed property, which is especially important for beginner real estate investors.
So, if you are new to investing in foreclosures, it is a good idea to hire a real estate agent.
8. Real Estate Signs
If you are specifically wondering “How to find foreclosures near me?”, the best way to do that is to drive around and look for signs. Similar to the “For Sale” signs which you can find on houses for sale, sometimes you can find properties with “Foreclosure”, “Bank Owned”, or “Bank Repo” signs. This is a particularly good property search strategy for areas which are known for having high rates of foreclosed homes. It will give you an opportunity to see the property at least from the outside which should be a good indication of the interior condition of the home as well. Moreover, sometimes these labels will be accompanied by an open house sign, which will allow you to explore the inside of the house as well.
9. Mashvisor (How to Find Foreclosures – The Best Way)
Now let’s come to the cherry on top of the cake. We’ve purposefully saved the best way to search for foreclosed properties for sale to the end. If you are thinking of investing in a foreclosure, you don’t just need to locate available properties but to also analyze them in order to decide which one will provide the best cash flow and return on investment. After all, buying a foreclosure is not a guarantee for a profitable investment. Buying a cheap property is usually a prerequisite but never a sufficient condition for a high return on investment. The real estate market, the rental demand, the rental rates, and the type of the property – among other factors – are of crucial importance too.
That’s where Mashvisor comes into play. With this real estate investment tool, you get not only foreclosure listings but also analysis of the investment potential of each individual property. Indeed, you can search for foreclosed homes in a particular city and neighborhood based on the following criteria:
- Price range
- Preferred rental strategy (traditional rental or Airbnb rental)
- Expected rental income
- Expected cap rate
- Expected cash on cash return
- Property type (single family home, townhouse, multi family, condo, or other)
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Year built
One of the most significant drawbacks of foreclosure investments is that investors have to act quickly (to meet the auction date) and do not get to see the property in person. This makes investment analysis hard, if not impossible. Mashvisor, instead, provides investors with readily available investment property analysis and figures on all listed foreclosures, the majority of which come from Auction.com. In this way, investors can move forward with the bidding with an ease of mind that this property will make for a good investment.
To sign up for Mashvisor, click here.
These are the 9 best ways of how to find foreclosures, whether online or live. If you are not a homebuyer but a real estate investor looking for a profitable rental property, we recommend sticking to #9.