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Generally speaking, it should be easy to find properties that are in foreclosure, pre-foreclosure, are bank-owned (REO) or maybe even available for short sale. Why? According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, 1 out of every 200 homes will eventually be foreclosed on with 250,000 families entering into foreclosure every 3 months.
Although the total number of homes in foreclosure now is still much lower than the mortgage crisis over a decade ago, there are still thousands of homeowners that find themselves unable to make their mortgage payments due to unemployment, divorce, or other reasons. Eventually, the lender forecloses on their home.
Saturday, December 4th
Auction should be the first site you consider when deciding which Foreclosure Listings site to use. Why? Because it's 100% free to use, with no fine print or hidden exclusions or membership fees. Over the last 10+ years, Auction has had more than 4 million registered buyers, with more than 15,000 auctions per year throughout all 50 states - resulting it more than $39 billion in total sales since they got their start.
Getting started is as simple as entering your name, phone number, zip code, and desired password. Voila - you now have access to everything Auction has to offer. You can begin your search by entering your target area (state, county, city, zip code, or address) in the search bar, or click on the Buy dropdown at the top of the page.
Once you've entered a search, you'll be taken to your results list. This list will show you at a glance the address, auction date(s), beds/baths and sq.ft, the estimated resale value, and any minimum opening bid amount. You can also see if there's a buyer's premium, whether the auction is in-person or online, and whether it's bank owned or a foreclosure. This results list can easily be sorted by Property (e.g. number of beds/baths, desired range of sq.ft., and property type like single-family or condo), Asset Type, Auction Type, Condition
The amount of information available on each foreclosure listing is extensive. First, you can see immediately the estimated resale value, the estimated debt owed by the homeowners (if any), and where the auction is to be held - such as the online auction for the county where the property is located. You can also see details about the property, like the square footage, the year the home was built, number of beds/baths, and so on. Often there are photos, but they may be limited to images from Google Maps and might not include photos inside the residence. Finally, you can quickly see whether the property is cash-only or if financing is allowed, whether the property has received final clearance for auction (you can set up an alert to be notified when the property clears), and if there's any contact information for the property.
Either from the tab at the top of the listing or in the scrolling images below it, you can also see properties similar to the one you're considering. That's a handy way to see what else might be available within your price range, desired property size, or preferred geographic area.
We really love that Auction has a detailed section about Due Diligence on each listing. Click on "Learn how to perform due diligence" for a great tutorial, or simply look at what's available on the listing itself:
If you still have questions, Auction's staff of more than 1000 employees can help. You can reach them via toll-free number Monday-Friday from 6a to 5p Pacific time, via email, or through the website's live chat feature.
One thing to be aware of: unless a listing is described as "Absolute Auction" or "Minimum Bid Auction", there is a minimum selling price set in advance by the Seller. Unless it's prohibited by law in the state where the listing is located, Auction can counter bid on behalf of the Seller until that minimum is reached. In other words, don't get too excited when you see a home with a starting bid of $100 - because chances are good that the minimum selling price will be much higher.
That brings us to another aspect of using Auction that is different from most Foreclosure Listing services: you can actually use this site to start the process of purchasing a foreclosed or bank-owned property. Most services just provide lists of potential properties, leaving you to do the legwork on your own. Auction, on the other hand, gives you a direct path towards bidding on and purchasing the properties in their listings.
The one negative we found about Auction is that its parent company, Ten-X, had a "B" rating with the Better Business Bureau at the time of our review. According to the BBB, that less-than-perfect grade was because of the number of complaints filed against the business: 29 (when we last accessed the BBB listing). However, many of these complaints seem to show that the customers didn't understand Auction's terms and processes - which are explained both on the website and by the company's responses to the BBB complaints - and Auction continues to be accredited by the BBB despite those complaints. Just be sure that you read the Auction site very thoroughly before bidding on the properties found there.
Auction is detailed, intuitive to use, and has the potential to connect you with a vast number of properties that could be your next home or investment. And, best of all, it's completely free to create an account and start browsing listings in any area you choose. Auction is our first choice among Foreclosure Listings services.
RealtyTrac was founded in 1996 and offers all types of Foreclosure Listings, including properties in pre-foreclosure, auctions, and bank-owned.
Like most subscription-based Foreclosure Listings services that offer a free trial, you'll need to enter your credit card information during the sign-up process. If you decide to keep your subscription beyond RealtyTrac's free 7-day trial period, you'll be billed $49.95 per month. If you decide to cancel your subscription, you may be given access as a "Free Member", with the ability to log in, save properties, searches, and notes in the "Homes for Sale" channel, and limited access to their Stats & Trends section.
Once you've signed up for your account, you'll be taken to a helpful Getting Started page. Here, you'll find Tips for Beginners that show you how to use the site more effectively, like how to search for the right properties and save your searches for later use, how to save properties you're interested in, and so on. If you need more education on foreclosures, particularly with respect to laws in your state, you'll find that in the Learn More section. Finally, if you want the help of a local realtor or need to get an idea of current mortgage rates in your area, those links are in the Next Steps section.
You can also find market information under the Stats & Trends tab. This is the place to click if you want information on market trends in the US, such as the number of foreclosures nationwide, or which states have the highest foreclosure rates.
When you're ready to search for Foreclosure Listings, you can enter a neighborhood, city, zip code or state into the search box, or go under the Search Homes tab. Keep in mind that RealtyTrac isn't limited strictly to Foreclosures, so you'll also find homes that are in pre-foreclosure, bank owned (REO), and that are listed as a traditional sale.
Once we entered our target area, we got a results list that could be sorted by date entered, number of beds/baths, square footage, price, and properties identified as "hot opportunities". We were surprised to see that the first 20+ listings were all sourced from another Foreclosure Listings service in our review, Auction. That left us wondering why we'd pay a monthly fee for RealtyTrac when Auction gives people accounts at no charge.
On a positive note, we were impressed with the amount of information provided in each listing. For example, on one property that met our search criteria, we were able to see that while crime rates were low in the area, there were 15 criminal sex offenders located within a mile, and 8 environmental risks also within a mile. Further information showed us exactly how much had been paid in property taxes, the purchase history, and much more. Those kinds of details can make or break a purchase, whether you're planning on living in a home or you're using it as part of an investment strategy.
RealtyTrac enjoys an "A+" rating and accreditation with the Better Business Bureau. That's a good sign for a business in the Foreclosure Listings industry.
Overall, RealtyTrac offers good value for what you pay, especially with the level of detail the service provides on each property listing.
Foreclosure is one of the longest-running Foreclosure Listings services on the market, having started in 1999 with the vision of providing up-to-date property listings nationwide. Their database is updated as often as twice daily, ensuring that you have access to the most current listings available.
Each property listed on Foreclosure comes with the following information:
Foreclosure gives you a 7-day free trial, so that you can take a look what they offer. You can cancel within those 7 days at no cost, or you can opt to continue your membership as a paid subscription for $39.80/month. That's less expensive than many competitor sites.
We recommend that you keep a close eye on the credit card you choose to use when signing up for your free trial. First, you'll need to be sure to cancel your account within 7 days if you decide not to use the service for $39.80/month. We found reviews from several users who cancelled within the 7-day period, but decided to log back into their account a few weeks (or even months) later. Apparently, the fine print says that logging into your account gives Foreclosure permission to activate your monthly membership. We also saw comments from users that said their credit card was compromised after using it on the Foreclosure site.
Surprisingly, however, Foreclosure still had an "A+" rating with the Better Business Bureau at the time of our most recent visit. That indicates that even if there are issues with their billing practices (especially things not clearly disclosed but rather hidden in the fine print), they've done a good job of responding to issues and taking care of them to the BBB's satisfaction.
Given that Foreclosure claims to be the internet's best Foreclosure Listings site, we would have expected to see many more resources for prospective customers. The top-ranked services in our review usually include extensive articles and even videos that explain the process and help investors and buyers navigate that often-complicated steps required to purchase a foreclosed property. The Foreclosure site has a few articles and an FAQ, but not much more.
Overall, Foreclosure's services earn a 3-star rating: we appreciate their good record with the BBB and their free trial, but what they offer isn't quite as robust as the highest-ranked Foreclosure Listings providers we evaluated.
HUD Foreclosed is based in California and has been in business for over 12 years. They offer Foreclosure Listings starting at $10,000 and typically have thousands of home listings in every state.
It's important to note that HUD Foreclosed doesn't broker any sales themselves, similar to most of the Foreclosure Listing services in our review. Instead, they gather information from banks, title companies, and other public sources of information to compile their listings.v
HUD Foreclosed has a pricing structure that is more complicated than other services providing Foreclosure Listings. Yes, you can get a three-week trial for just $1, but you'll only be able to subscribe to a month-to-month membership plan at $49.60/month afterwards. You can save money with a 6-month membership for $99 or a 1-year membership for $179, but you'll have to go into the service blind because there's no trial period offered on those two plans.
You can enter a zip code or other area you're interested in, to get a preliminary look at what HUD Foreclosed offers. In the zip code we entered, we were able to see a list of FSBO, REO Foreclosed, Rent to Own, and other properties in the area. But we couldn't see any other information when we clicked on the listing without signing up for a paid membership.
Unfortunately, we found so many comments stating how hard it was to cancel a membership, there was no way we wanted to disclose our billing information to HUD Foreclosed. We were also concerned about the quality of the data offered by this Foreclosure Listing service. For example, someone commented on the company's Facebook page that they found several properties they own listed as foreclosures - but those homes were foreclosures over 15 years ago and have been owned by the commenter ever since. Getting Foreclosure Listings is only useful if the information is up-to-date, and HUD Foreclosed doesn't seem to be doing a very good job at that.
The only reason HUD Foreclosed doesn't get a lower rating is because of their reputation with the Better Business Bureau, which included an "A+" rating and accreditation, and only 2 complaints registered there in the last 3 years.
With many other websites offering Foreclosure Listings either at no charge or for a free trial period, there's no compelling reason to use HUD Foreclosed other than their good reputation with the BBB. We think you'll have a more satisfying experience with one of the higher-ranked Foreclosure Listing services in our review.
California-based Realty Store was founded in 2005 and specializes in foreclosures and discounted properties. They use information from hundreds of public and private sources to provide Foreclosure Listings across all 50 states. They don't sell any properties themselves, but they can connect you with lenders and realtors if you need help with those parts of your transaction.
If you want to see what Realty Store has to offer with respect to Foreclosure Listings in your area, you'll have to sign up for a paid account. You can get a 30-day trial for $1; if you don't cancel within those 30 days, you'll pay $49.60 every month. Although Realty Store is not the only Foreclosure Listings service that doesn't offer a free trial period, the most trusted services don't make customers pay to see what the site has to offer.
We recommend that you click on the Sample Foreclosure Property link at the bottom of the page, to see what kind of information is available in a typical Realty Store listing. In general, you can expect to see details about the expected home value, the neighborhood, and any property information that's available like square footage, year built, and property taxes.
But we wonder just how current Realty Store's listings are when the home we clicked on under the site's "Real Estate Guides, News, and Trends" section was "just listed" in 2014. Looking at the blog posts in that same section, we found references to "recent destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy" (2012) and many posts from several years ago. Fortunately, we found more current information under the Foreclosure Trends tab at the top of the page, but most of those were posts from realtors hoping to earn your business.
At the time of our most recent review, Realty Store had an "A+" rating as an accredited company with the Better Business Bureau. That's the only reason that Realty Store still earned two stars. The complaints registered with the BBB, while always resolved or at least answered by Realty Store, still paint a picture of a Foreclosure Listings company that isn't doing a terrific job of keeping their customers happy.
Foreclosure Listings was founded in 1998 and compiles properties from all 50 states. Their database includes homes in Foreclosure, Pre-Foreclosure, Short Sale, Sheriff Sale, and "Cheap Homes".
The information given on each property seems to be primarily driven by other sites: Google Maps, Zillow, and so forth. That's to be expected from a service that specializes in gathering data from other sources, but Foreclosure Listings comes up short when compared with the wealth of information provided by competitor sites. You can get a preview of their listings by clicking on any of the properties featured on their main site or by searching for an area of interest, but you'll need to create an account to see what Foreclosure Listings offers in detail.
This service doesn't offer a free trial. You'll pay $3.95 for 7 days of access to the site, and then you'll be charged $39.95/month thereafter if you don't cancel.
Looking through the terms and conditions of using the Foreclosure Listings service, we found this: "Your information may be sold to brokers". This happens automatically, unless you specifically request otherwise. We also found out that the number of listings you can view in a 24-hour period is limited by the company, but they won't tell you exactly how many that is because it's a "secret number...to protect its data from data mining". Poking around other parts of the site, we found missing links and typos that made us feel that this Foreclosure Listing service is less than professional.
Foreclosure Listings is owned by the parent company Foreclosure Data Online, Inc. This business did not have a rating or accreditation with the Better Business Bureau at the time of our review, but the company has been on file with the BBB since 2004. To top it off, we found no customer reviews of the service - not even testimonials on the Foreclosure Listings' site itself.
For all of these reasons, Foreclosure Listings is one of the lowest-ranked services in our review.
At the same time, this can be a huge opportunity for people looking to start or expand their investment portfolio by getting properties well below market cost, or to buy a home for themselves at a significant discount. Plus, the original homeowner may be able to avoid bankruptcy or other negative financial consequences through your purchase of their home, even at a reduced cost.
It's important to realize that many homes purchased as a foreclosure are sold as-is, so budgeting for things like repairs or replacing appliances is key. Another factor to keep in mind is that it may take longer to close on a foreclosed property than in a traditional home sale. If the property is bank owned, the bank may not be as motivated to cut a quick deal or close quickly. And, there can also be a legal component to getting the current residents to vacate the property before you can take occupancy.
Once you're ready to find a foreclosed property, where should you look? There are several services that provide Foreclosure Listings, doing all the legwork of searching databases and other sources of information to give you the details on the properties in your target area.
When deciding which Foreclosure Listing provider to use, keep these criteria in mind:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Foreclosure Listings available today. We hope this information helps you in your real estate goals, whether you're buying a home for yourself or adding to your investment portfolio!
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