How to Search for Foreclosure Homes Using Online Search Tools
Published February 1, 2017
Online home search tools have made finding foreclosed homes easier than ever. If you want to find homes that meet your criteria, you’ll need these tips.
When you decide to invest in a foreclosed home as an investor or as a potential resident, you need to make sure that you review all of the options that are available to you. Online home search tools make finding foreclosed homes easier. However, not all sites offer the same features and in some cases you may be better off working with an agent.
Searching for foreclosed properties online is not easy. However, there are many resources out there that can help you find legitimate listings.
Buying foreclosed homes doesn’t come without risks, and you should keep these risks in mind as you search through listings that may not tell you all of the information about a property.
“As you search for foreclosed properties, you shouldn’t forget about the risks that come along with the cheap prices. Some homes have liens against them or mortgages associated with them, which can be inherited by their new owners.” says Kimberly Palmer, senior editor for U.S. News Money. “It can also be hard or impossible to inspect such homes in advance of their sale, which means there's no time to check if the basement is flooded or if the air conditioning still works.”
If you’re still interested in purchasing one of these potentially lucrative properties despite the dangers, here are a few tips that can help you to find foreclosed properties that are available for sale in your area.
Check Bank Websites
Some banks list their foreclosed properties directly on their websites. You can search for banks that list their foreclosed properties online by searching for bank owned homes or REO, also known as real estate owned properties in the search engines. These are the alternate names for foreclosure properties.
Some of the banks that list foreclosure properties online include PNC Bank, which has a distinct real estate arm known as PNC Realty Services, that can help buyers with locating bank owned properties that are for sale.
Search for Auction Companies
Sometimes banks hold auctions to get rid of foreclosed properties. There are major companies that handle these auctions, and if you want to get in on this action you should search for these companies online in order to find out when the auctions will be held. Try searching for your area + real estate auctions.
Don’t Overlook Offline Options
While online search tools may offer a good start to searching for foreclosures, don’t limit yourself only to the resources that you find online. You may be missing out on high quality properties by doing so.
Check Out the Legal Notices Pages
The legal notices pages of the local newspaper in your area typically features listings from auctioneers that are looking to conduct auctions for foreclosed homes in your area. This is a genuine way of finding foreclosures because the newspaper editor will vet the legitimacy of the listings before publishing them in the newspaper. This is in sharp contrast to many online foreclosure listings that may publish incorrect or out of date details about foreclosed homes.
Watch Out for Fake Sites
When it comes to selecting properties to research, you should be aware that there are many fake foreclosure search sites online. These sites typically charge to see foreclosure listings that often contain out-to-date or just flat-out inaccurate information. If you want to make sure that you find the best listings with accurate information, search out the free resources that are available to you before investing in paid options. You can also call a real estate agent to get more advice on searching for properties online. The agent may recommend local resources that you can use to do your research online.
Go With Free First
Going with the free options for finding foreclosures is highly recommended if you will begin your search online. “Whatever you do, never sign up for the trial offers that major real estate companies put up as an obstacle to find foreclosed homes,” says Ryan Dube, Managing Editor at makeuseof.com. “It’s in the best interest of retail real estate to keep these low-cost foreclosed properties difficult to access, because cheap homes bring down overall real estate prices.”
If you don’t know what you are searching for, a better option would be to just call up a buyer’s agent directly and discuss your needs.
Hire a Buyer’s Agent
Working with a qualified real estate agent can help you to find properties that have just gone onto the market. In addition, the agent will be able to provide you with information about the property that may not be available online.
Hiring a buyer’s agent that specializes in foreclosed homes can help you to find properties that are only available via MLS, or Multiple Listing Service. The MLS is only accessible to Realtors so you will need a professional to help you find such listings. The MLS features a larger inventory of properties than is typically available on foreclosure listing websites. In addition, because the service is designed for Realtors, the information is guaranteed to be accurate and up-to-date.
As you search for foreclosed properties online, keep in mind that not all home search websites have up-to-date or even accurate information. If you want to get the inside scoop on a foreclosed home, the best thing you can do is to contact a real estate agent after you have located a property that interests you.