How to Find Foreclosure and Pre-Foreclosure Listings

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Foreclosures and pre-foreclosures can be great opportunities for savvy real estate investors and others interested in getting their hands on a potential bargain property. That said, before buying a foreclosure, do keep in mind that if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can potentially get yourself in trouble. Other than REOs, foreclosure purchases may not come with a clean title, so be sure to ALWAYS check for liens.

Here are Five Ways to Find Foreclosures or Pre-Foreclosures:

1. Search Public Records:

In various stages of the foreclosure process, notices are recorded with the County Clerk at your County Recorder’s Office. This information is public record and is available to anyone. Just visit your county’s office and you can search for a Notice of Default (NOD), Lis Pendens or for a Notice of Sale. The best part of searching public records yourself is that it is Free.

In addition, you’re likely to find newly posted properties that haven’t yet reached many of the online foreclosure data providers.

2. Look Online:
Performing online searches are quite a bit easier then going to the Clerk or Recorder’s Office, but you certainly won’t be the first to find out about a pending bank foreclosure.

Typically you’ll need to use an online listing service (for a directory of these services, see: Pre-Foreclosures), where you can either participate in a free trial or pay a weekly fee to view their listings. We recommend checking out the free trial offers so you can see which provider you feel best suits you. There are both national and regional foreclosure listing services, which provide Notice of Default, Notice of Trustee Sale and Lis Pendens data on properties in the foreclosure process. Many of these companies will provide information including name, address, loan amount owed, and additional loans outstanding, while a select few will even provide contact phone numbers.

Some of these companies will even provide listings of Bank REO Properties, but you can get that information for free online as well. Many of the large national and regional banks will list their REO properties on their websites.

Visit our directory of Banks with Free REO Listings on their websites.

3. Search Local Newspapers:

Part of the requirement for filing a foreclosure is that the Notice of Sale be published in the Newspaper. If you search local papers and business journals, you can easily find notices for trustee sales in the Public Notice section.

Additional Sources for Finding Foreclosures

4. Find Asset Managers:
You can also find REO properties through Asset Management companies. Simply put, these companies help lenders dispose of assets. Many of these asset management companies will provide listings of the REO properties that they represent on their website.

5. Find Government Foreclosures:
Lastly, the government can also foreclose on properties. We’ve created a list of the various agencies that list government foreclosed properties.

Discuss Foreclosures at our:
Foreclosure Forums
REO Forums

Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli

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About Author

Joshua Dorkin (@jrdorkin, Google+) is the founder and CEO of BiggerPockets.

14 Comments

  1. Pingback: Real Estate Investing For Real » Blog Archive » One More Time . . . the Real Estate Carnival

  2. Pingback: The Carnival of Real Estate Edition 8 | Overseas Property Investment Blog

  3. This is a good article on finding pre-foreclosure houses. Its never been easy. Many are quite hesitant on selling their houses.

  4. Like with anything, when looking for foreclosure bargains the gain is directly related to the effort you put in. As long as you’re in the area in which you are looking for a foreclosure or pre-foreclosure, your best bet is just as the article says – hit up the local county clerk. While the online subscription services do make life easier, don’t expect any real steals from them. That data is often cherry picked by people with deep pockets before it makes its way to the average foreclosure investor.

    Appreciate the bank resources as well – thats a route I’ve yet to explore.

    • H F Comment is good and realistic. About the bank, I will go to my bank, talk to my banker and simply expalin my best intention. Honesty move mountains. Thank you HF again.

  5. Great tip on asset management companies. I’ve never gone down that road before, but I think that’s a winning tip. I’ve always had the best luck online personally.

  6. I thought those were 5 solid tips to give an investor looking to pickup a property for the first time. I used to frequent the Maricopa County courthouse and assessors Phoenix, AZ Foreclosures shuffling through trustee’s sales, now you can get em online. In fact there is even full operation bid services that will handle the service of actually closing on the real estate considering these are all cash deals.

  7. I see that your post is from 2006. Funny how 4 years later preforeclosures are still in the background. There is a lot of opportunity to get deals out there, especially with this ongoing crisis.

  8. david thornton on

    i would extra greatly appreciate being taken by the hand to do a foreclosure deal,hopefully in less than 30 days and duplicate it again.i’ll help a newbie. thank you so much for this site i stumbled upon.this lifestyle is my passion. htank you again,god bless.

  9. Pingback: 3 FREE Ways to Find Foreclosures in St. Louis | Arch City Homes

  10. I noticed that you didn’t list any lead companies as a source of foreclosure leads.

    There are several companies that put ads on Google and collect leads and sell them to investors, attorneys and other consultants that offer stop foreclosure and other services. Foreclosure leads typically sell for about 20 to 30 dollars per lead. The leads can be purchased exclusively or shared with other service providers.

    Some vendors sell leads that are more than 30 days old for less than a dollar each.
    This leads are especially good for investors because the homeowner has already exhausted options of saving the house.

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