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When a borrower defaults on their mortgage loan, the property goes into a legal process known as foreclosure. This can get complicated with the many different stages of foreclosure, but the bottom line is that you can usually get a good deal on a foreclosed property and may even be able to get a mortgage on the house.
A foreclosure site is a website that specializes in providing listings of these foreclosed homes. It may be the site’s only focus or it may be a portion of a much larger real estate listings site. Foreclosure sites typically display lists of properties that are in varying stages of foreclosure and sometimes include detailed descriptions and photos. Some sites are paid and others offer the information for free. Foreclosure properties may be in various conditions, from move-in ready homes to fixer-uppers. Keep reading to find out more about what foreclosure sites have to offer and which one may be right for you.
Best Overall: Foreclosure.com
Why We Chose It: Foreclosure.com has the largest selection of foreclosed homes in the United States, offers a free seven-day trial, and is easy to navigate.
Data is updated daily
Online database and an app for Android and iPhone
Detailed property descriptions
You need to pay to access the foreclosure listings
Lots of ads on the site can get distracting during a search
Foreclosure.com is a private company that was founded in 1998 with headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida. The company claims to have the largest online database of foreclosed properties available for viewing on its website and app. Listings are updated daily and come straight from tax rolls and legal files. Foreclosure.com offers a free seven-day trial period. After that, the cost is $39.80 per month and you can cancel anytime.
The site features listings in varying stages of foreclosure, including pre-foreclosure and government-owned properties as well as corporate sellers. Most listings include a photograph of the exterior of the property and tax roll information such as the address, the size and type of the property, and the school district. Sometimes the previous sales price and property tax information are shown as well. Each listing will also include contact information for a realtor so you can set up a showing.
Best for Fannie Mae Listings: HomePath
Why We Chose It: HomePath is a free site to search exclusively for Fannie Mae listings and has helpful resources on financing and other real estate-related topics.
Free to sign up, no credit card required
Helpful resources and news articles on energy efficiency, mortgages, and more
First look at properties for owner-occupants
Only Fannie Mae properties are listed
Under-contract listings come up in searches
HomePath is the official foreclosure website owned by Fannie Mae. It features all property types, but most of the listings are single-family homes, townhomes, and condos. All of the properties were owned by borrowers with Fannie Mae loans. Once the owners default on their mortgage, this government-sponsored enterprise takes back the loan, becomes the legal owner, and sells the homes on its HomePath site.
The site lets potential home buyers and real estate professionals get free detailed information on the listings, including the address, square footage, number of bedrooms, neighborhood information, and more. Properties are listed in various conditions: those that are move-in ready or in need of cosmetic repairs or a total rehab.
You can easily search the site by address, city, state, and MLS number. The site offers flexible lending programs such as affordable mortgage loans with low down payments. Some properties offer first looks to owner-occupants so they have a chance to look at and make an offer on the property before investors do.
Best for Properties With One to Four Units: HUD
Why We Chose It: HUD offers a variety of foreclosed homes from different government agencies focusing mostly on residential properties with up to four units.
Homes from multiple agencies available
Extensive search filters with maps
Free to use
No app available
Can only search homes from one agency at a time
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) operates a foreclosure site with homes for sale from multiple government agencies including HUD, the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Marshals Service, and more. The site is free to use and you can search for properties with the map or through search criteria such as the ZIP code, state, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and more. Additionally, there are special purchasing programs available to nonprofits and families with low to moderate incomes.
Although there is a section on multifamily housing, the site focuses mostly on properties that meet HUD’s guidelines of being a residential property with one to four units. In addition to searching for foreclosed properties, there are some valuable resources on finding HUD-approved lenders, fair housing practices, and tips for first-time homebuyers. Property information is available in addition to amenities, maps, photos, and listing agent information.
Best for Detailed Reports: RealtyTrac
Why We Chose It: RealtyTrac offers a large database of foreclosed homes in addition to real estate for sale and includes detailed property reports and additional resources.
Millions of listings, even non-foreclosed properties
Video tips on buying foreclosures
Monthly fee kicks in after trial period ends
Addresses aren’t listed until you sign up
RealtyTrac was founded in 1996 and is based in Irvine, California. It operates in the real estate services field, caters to bargain shoppers and investors, and provides extensive data on foreclosed homes, neighborhood information, local schools, and real estate market data. The site features residential and commercial property listings and you can easily search by neighborhood, ZIP code, or address, in addition to cities, bank-owned properties, and homes in foreclosure.
The site offers a free seven-day trial period, but it does require a credit card to sign up and does not allow access to entire listings until you do so. Once you’re a member, the property data is comprehensive and includes everything you would want to know about the house; sometimes details about previous sales information, property taxes, photos, auction dates, and the amount of equity in the property are also offered. When you search for a foreclosure, the site will also let you know what other homes are for sale in the same area so you can comparison shop.
Some foreclosure sites are free to use while others offer free trials and then charge you a monthly subscription fee. Some only showcase one type of property, such as Fannie Mae homes or properties with four units or less, and others feature a variety of different property types. Overall, we recommend checking out Foreclosure.com first because it has a vast database of different types of foreclosed properties, offers detailed property reports, and is easy to search.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Foreclosure Site?
A foreclosure site is a real estate website or real estate app that specializes in listing foreclosed properties for sale. Typically, these sites list foreclosures for sale in multiple geographical regions and in varying conditions.
There are different types of foreclosed properties, including:
- REOs (real estate-owned)
- Properties that are in pre-foreclosure
- Homes that have already been foreclosed on
- Homes up for auction at sheriff’s auctions
- Short sales
- Properties for sale at tax auctions
- Government-owned homes through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae
Are Foreclosed Homes Cheaper?
Foreclosed homes aren’t always cheaper, but they usually are. There are a number of reasons for this: The previous owner may not have had the money to complete maintenance and repairs and so the property is being sold in "as is" condition; and banks often want to get the houses off their books quickly, which can result in a low price.
Can I Get a Mortgage on a Foreclosed Home?
You can usually get a mortgage on a foreclosed home, but the borrower and the home will need to meet the lender’s guidelines to qualify. For example, the bank may require that the home be in “move-in” condition or doesn't need more than a certain amount of repairs to become habitable. Other qualifying factors will include the borrower’s personal credit score, income, and the down payment amount.
Keep in mind that you may be competing with cash buyers to purchase a foreclosed home, who can usually close much quicker and with fewer contingencies than a buyer who is getting a mortgage or an investor who is acquiring an investment property loan.
How We Chose the Best Foreclosure Sites
We researched and reviewed nine different foreclosure sites before narrowing down our list to the top selections. These sites are easy to use, have a variety of search filters, and are reputable companies that offer up-to-date listing information. We also considered the cost to access the site, types of properties offered, and the amount of property information and photos available.