The first step in the journey to purchasing a property is to identify what you are looking for. Thus, determine which features are necessary and which features are not necessarily deemed essential. It is important to have a clear picture of what you would like to find in a home while also keeping yourself open to possibilities. Afterward, determine what your price range is for home and calculate your down-payment range to begin saving up.

If you do not have a large budget or wish to save some money first, you may look into foreclosed properties. Generally, when homeowners are unable to pay their mortgage during the span of a few months, the home is foreclosed. Foreclosure refers to the mortgage lender seizing the property from its current homeowner because of a lack of payments. Then, the lender turns around and tries to sell the home for less than market price as an attempt to recoup some of the lost money. In certain instances, you may find a nice home that would not be affordable otherwise. The following sections detail some of the best tips for finding, evaluating and purchasing homes on foreclosure listings.

Find an Agent

Having a real estate broker is crucial. Most times, when a bank seizes a property, it hires real estate brokers to handle the property. In many cases, realtors, who are also brokers specializing in foreclosed homes, are available to assist you in this process. These realtors understand the additional legalities involved with purchasing a home listed well below market value. Hiring a professional is particularly recommended if you are new to real estate. A realtor with experience in buying foreclosed homes can help you spot a good deal.

If you hire a quality broker before looking for a property, you may ask him or her for listings. Various realtors foster long-term ties with banks and know of property listings before they hit the market or are advertised. The foreclosure market works fast, which means that knowing about listings as early as possible makes a significant difference between securing a home and watching it sell to someone else.

Check Bank Websites

When you begin to look for foreclosed homes, it may be in your best interest to visit your local bank’s website. You may be surprised to find the number of foreclosed properties available on the websites of local banks. That is because, when banks seize a property going into foreclosure, they often make those listings public.

As you continue to search through listings, you may visit a bank’s website often in order to see if new listings are available. Additionally, banks often buy homes through auctions and then proceed to auction them off again. Thus, check these websites to see if any auctions for interesting properties are going on in your area.

Check the Legal Notices Section

Local newspapers are great sources for legal notices of foreclosures whenever foreclosed homes go up for auction in your area. Therefore, this is a great way to look into getting a home for a lower price. If you do find a property up for auction, you may check the auctioneer’s website for more information or for additional listings. Available times for viewing the property are often pre-determined, which is when you may go to inspect the property before an auction. Even if you do not see the property in question, searching the legal notices section is a good springboard into other listings.

Online Search

Online searches are among the most popular methods to look for foreclosed homes. When you visit real estate websites, you will likely find thousands of listings available. By narrowing down your search parameters, you filter out undesirable listings. Once all of the unnecessary listings are out of the way, it becomes easier to search through the remaining options. Because several real estate websites exist, it is to your advantage to use a few of them to compare listings.

Utilize the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

When a home with a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) goes into foreclosure, instead of the bank obtaining the property, it goes to the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department. At this point, the property is referred to as a HUD home. Just like banks, the HUD puts properties up for sale well below market price. Furthermore, be mindful that the HUD designates higher priority to buyers intending to purchase a home as their primary residence.

In a fast-moving market, having priority is key to closing in on your dream home. While these HUD properties are often offered “as-is,” they are typically in good condition. The best way to find these HUD home listings is to check with the HUD department itself. In general, hundreds of listings are available across the country at any given time. When looking at properties, you may filter by which type of buyer you are, as well as your area or price range.

Visit the County Offices

Any time a property goes into foreclosure, it is registered at its local county clerk’s office. In many cases, these offices post listings online. Additionally, certain county offices host weekly sales on homes in the area. By visiting these offices and asking to view its listings, you find more foreclosed properties to bid on. Moreover, you may search based on a specific ZIP code or street address for foreclosed homes in the area. By searching at your county’s offices, you often avoid scams as well.

Go on Foot

If you know the areas you are interested in, you may drive or walk around your preferred neighborhoods. That way, you experience what the neighborhood is like and may find homes for sale. Ideally, check for signs detailing:

  • Bank repo.
  • Foreclosure.
  • Bank-owned.

These signs are often used to designate that a home is falling into foreclosure. In addition, these signs often list a point of contact. As you visit these neighborhoods, you also have the opportunity to network with local neighbors. Overall, these residents may be able to provide you with an abundance of beneficial information, perhaps even on other listings that they are aware of. Utilizing this method, you can get a jump on making an offer on a property that may not even be listed yet.