It seems like everyone out there in the real estate business is trying to sell or buy foreclosures. The most used tool used to do this is the free real estate foreclosure list. In some cases, the free real estate foreclosure list is offered on free trial for a membership site, so you can try out their services. You can get get free information from these sites, the city or county, and even government sites like HUD.gov. There are some risks involved in getting information from free sources that you should be aware of before making a final decision.
Some lists aren’t updated frequently enough and the information is outdated. This can cause problems if you spend a lot of time researching a specific property on the free real estate foreclosure list, only to find out it is no longer under foreclosure. In between the time the list was created, posted, and subsequently read by you, the owner may have found a way to pay back the bank, gone into bankruptcy (which stops the foreclosure process for a period of time), done a short sale, or sold conventionally. Don’t waste your time assuming a property is still being foreclosed if you get it off a free real estate foreclosure list, always double-check its current status.
Obviously, the free real estate foreclosure list may not be as comprehensive as the paid ones. You want to be able to get as much information on a property before you buy: the square footage, the comparable market sales, the condition of the property, and the liens that might be outstanding. Even if you pay for a list instead of getting a free real estate foreclosure list, you will want to give the property a visual inspection and even see if you can opt to get a home inspector in too during the buying process. Some foreclosures allow you to do that, but you have to add a special clause to the contract.
Buying foreclosures is a risky business. None of the information on a paid or free real estate foreclosure list is guaranteed. Foreclosures are sold “as is” and can come with huge repair costs and back taxes owed. You have to do your homework regardless of the information you find on a list, since it might be completely inaccurate. It is up to you, the buyer, to verify any information you get from any list, whether it is a paid or a free real estate foreclosure list.