If you’ve ever tried to research buying a foreclosure or short sale online, you’ve probably found a lot of sites either plastered with ads or charging expensive subscription fees in order to access “exclusive” foreclosure listings. Well, the good news is that real estate site Zillow.com recently announced that it has added nearly 2 million free listings of “pre-market inventory” to its database. (Via Techcrunch.) This includes full addresses and details on pre-foreclosure, foreclosure, and bank-owned properties not included in the usual MLS databases.
You must register to see the foreclosure listings, but it’s free and all you need is an e-mail (name not required). I looked around my neighborhood and found several homes that are in the foreclosure process or already sold via auction, often complete with winning bid amounts. There’s a house down the street that is pretty nice and will be auctioned off live at the county courthouse next Friday; I might attend that auction for the experience. I’m told these are auctions where you need a cashier’s check for the full 6- or 7-figure sale price right on the spot.
Based on my limited understanding, if you want to buy a foreclosure it’s still helpful to work with an experienced real estate professional. Zillow makes their money if you ask them to refer you to a local “foreclosure specialist”. Sounds fair to me, if you don’t already have one in mind. I’ve had friends attempt to buy a bank-owned REO property which sounded like a good deal on paper, but required huge amounts of time and patience. Finding a good rental property always sounds nice in my mind, but I haven’t had much time to pursue it further.