Home foreclosures affect numerous American homeowners every year. While foreclosures are a serious problem for property owners, they can also be an opportunity for those wanting to buy new property under market value. This guide explains how to keep an eye on foreclosure trends in your local area.
Foreclosure is a complicated process that can take months or years to complete. There are various steps involved even before a foreclosed home is officially listed for sale. It is important to spend some time evaluating foreclosures in your area if you are interested in buying a foreclosed property. Because foreclosure processes vary from state to state depending on governmental regulations, foreclosure trends vary widely as well.
One of the major factors in foreclosure patterns and trends around the country is whether banks are overwhelmed with defaulted loans. When there are a large number of defaulted loans on the market, it can take a significant amount of time for the banks to process them all. This can lead to the Notice of Default (NOD) stage in the foreclosure process lasting longer than usual, which means that there will be more pre-auction homes available on the market.
You can look at websites of both major bank chains and local lenders for foreclosed home listings, yet you won’t be able to see homes in pre-foreclosure.
You can find homes headed to foreclosure by digging through records at your local county courthouse. NOD listings are public record, so many professionals in the real estate industry also browse the listings once they go public and contact the homeowners. Watch also for Notice of Sale (NOS) filings, which indicate when the home is scheduled for auction. Both NOD and NOS are also published in the legal notices section of local newspapers.
Many homeowners are willing to sell their home for significantly less than market value at this stage in the foreclosure process, so investing in homes at this stage can save a lot of time and money. This is an important trend, because a large number of pre-auction homes on the market drives real estate prices down even lower, making it easier to snag a deal.
Monitoring foreclosure listings is one of the best ways to stay on top of foreclosure trends because you can tell from the number of listings whether foreclosures are booming or dwindling in your area.
Another important foreclosure trend to look out for is auctions. Banks tend to push foreclosures through in large groups, so everything goes to auction at once. The auction stage of the foreclosure process is a great opportunity to buy quality homes at below market value. Remember that other buyers are following this trend too, so there will be plenty of competition at auction.
Another easy way to track trends in home foreclosure is to visit websites that give analyses of all the foreclosures in a given area of the country. Each state government website also offers foreclosure reports, which are typically divided into cities and neighborhoods. Many foreclosed homes are directly listed online by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). You can browse listings in your state and city to see the number of homes HUD has for sale.
Some states are experiencing a rebound in the real estate market and therefore have only a handful of HUD homes while others still have hundreds of homes on the federal website.
Monitoring foreclosure trends is a good way to buy a home in a desirable area for much less than market cost. A real estate agent who specializes in foreclosures can help you research local trends and find foreclosed homes as well as homes in pre-foreclosure. Many of these agents also specialize in short sales, which are cases in which the lender agrees to let the homeowner sell at a price significantly lower than the mortgage balance.
A HUD-approved agent can help you navigate the HUD Home Store website listings. If you are interested in buying a home HUD has listed, you will need an approved agent to place bids. The website provides contacts of approved agents in your area.
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Larque Goodson is a real estate writer at Reply! with over 15 years of experience in journalism and marketing. For more tips on buying foreclosed homes, see her article on how to find and buy foreclosed homes.