It's a buyer's market. You know that just from reading the paper.There are lots of foreclosure properties available. You know that, too. But how do you find the best foreclosure opportunities? As I talk about in my book
- For sale by the U.S government. Major federal agencies including HUD, FHA, VA and even the Department of Justice sell homes acquired through foreclosure. The main portal
HomeSales.gov covers these listings in an easy-to-use format, showing the offerings and linking you to realtors and other marketing specialists in an area. I recently found a four-bedroom, three-bath home, five years old and in good shape in a nice suburb outside of Houston, Texas, for under $50 per square foot. But that was kind of an exception -- many of these homes are in depressed areas. If you're interested in rural properties, which can include farms or even single-family homes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Web site shows properties for sale from farm loan programs.
- For sale by quasi-government lenders. The federal government also sponsors or backs the large private lenders
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These sites (especially Fannie Mae) contain extensive listings and tend to cover homes owned by a more midrange clientele.
- For sale by an agency. Lenders, especially smaller ones, hire special agents, or "asset managers," to manage their foreclosure transactions and sales. These tend to be regional and some have more listings than others. Examples include
HomeEq Servicing, Keystone Asset Management or Lenders Asset Management Corporation, and there are many more -- just do a Google search on "asset manager foreclosure."
- For sale by the bank. Banks and mortgage companies are becoming, to their chagrin, big property owners, and more sites are coming online to hawk their wares, known in their trade as REO, or real estate owned. Sites include familiar names like
Bank of America, Countrywide Credit and US Bank. Some will look like the asset-managers sites mentioned above because they are operated by these managers. You'll find assets in all price ranges. A recent Countrywide search in Texas yielded more than 600 properties priced from $18,000 to over $600,000. The Web is a good place to start, but it isn't the only place to search. If you're looking to invest locally, it doesn't hurt to talk to local banks and lending institutions. Not only will you find out about foreclosures, possibly before they even hit the Internet, but you may also pick up a property in a preforeclosure state. Since the borrower doesn't want the foreclosure experience any more than the bank does, all parties involved benefit from working something out. Can you say "win-win-win?"