How To Find a Pre-Foreclosure Home
Many top-performing real estate agents have had success in moving homes that were on the brink of foreclosure. The challenge, of course, is knowing how to find a pre-foreclosure home.
It’s important to remember that homeowners whose properties have been identified as Pre-Foreclosure may be open to selling their home in advance of actual foreclosure or a short sale. And many real estate investors are eager to jump on these opportunities. So, if you’re working with an investor, you’ll have to understand how to find a pre-foreclosed home.
Knowing where and how to find pre-foreclosure listings, it helps to understand the foreclosure process. Here are five general phases (NOTE: Agents need to learn the specific statutes on foreclosure in their state):
- PHASE 1: Payment Default-arises when a borrower fails to make monthly payments on their principal balance or interest on a home loan. Defaults can also arise for failure to pay property taxes or homeowners insurance, or transferring a title to another person without the lender’s approval.
- PHASE 2: Notice of Default (NOD)-NOD refers to a public notice filed with a court that states that the borrower of a mortgage is in default of the loan. Typically activated after three months of non-payment, the NOD is the final action lenders take before placing a lien and seizing the collateral for foreclosure.
- PHASE 3: Notice of Trustee Sale-Informs the homeowner and mortgage borrowers of record that their home will be sold at a trustee’s sale on a specific date at a specific location. The actual sale typically completes a non-judicial foreclosure in states allowing this type of foreclosure process.
- PHASE 4: Trustee Sale-Refers to the sale of the property via a public auction.
- PHASE 5: Real Estate Owned (REO)-The term for a property owned by a lender because it failed to sell in a foreclosure auction after the borrower defaulted on their mortgage. Typically, banks attempt to sell their REOs using a real estate agent or by listing the property online.
WHO CAN BUY HOMES FROM A PRE-FORECLOSURE LIST?
Generally, real estate investors are the primary players in the pre-foreclosure marketplace. That said, anybody can purchase a pre-foreclosure home.
But it’s important to recognize that working with pre-foreclosures can be a challenging process. Pre-foreclosure homes can often be higher-risk properties. For example, they might be in bad shape, either from purposeful misuse on the homeowner’s part, or poor maintenance from a lack of resources. So, if you’re interested in a pre-foreclosure property, it would help, at minimum, to do a drive-by, which gives you a chance to evaluate the property and neighborhood. Such as inspection might lead to an impromptu conversation with the homeowner or several neighbors, which can help as you begin to weigh your options.
CONTACTING A PRE-FORECLOSURE HOMEOWNER
If you have a chance to engage the homeowner, especially prior to an auction, you might want to first send a letter or postcard in which you empathize with the fact that they are in a difficult situation. It’s important to recognize that the homeowner may not be friendly or cordial. You need to be tactful and, again, empathetic to build trust. If you are lucky enough to be invited into the home for a tour, be sure to focus on the home’s condition so you have an idea of how much incremental money you or an investor client might need to invest.
HOW TO GET PRE-FORECLOSURE LISTINGS-ESPRESSO AGENT
With Espresso Agent, agents can add Pre-Foreclosure capabilities for $59 additional per month. It includes cell #’s and verified email addresses where available, and is based on their radius (max of 50 Miles) and the zip code they set their account up with. LEARN MORE HERE.
Espresso’s Pre-Foreclosure leads include significantly more information about the properties, plus agents can select the leads they want to enhance, with the remainder carried forward to future months.
HOW TO FIND PRE-FORECLOSURE LISTINGS FOR FREE
If you are not an Espresso Agent client, there are many other ways to find pre-foreclosures. Where you look for pre-foreclosure leads will depend on how much time and energy you’re willing to invest in the process.
Let’s take a look at a few sources that will help you address the question: how to find homes in pre-foreclosure.
- Pre-foreclosures near me: This simple Google search will uncover a variety of different sources and pre-foreclosure listings in your area. Some of the sources are pay only, but most are FREE sources for how to find homes in pre-foreclosure.
- Online directories provide both pre-foreclosure listings and foreclosure listings, along with pertinent property details such as interior photos, the condition of the property, and the number of bedrooms. These directories are a fast and easy to find a list of pre-foreclosures. However, you need to recognize that everyone interested in how to find pre-foreclosures will be using the same information… information that can, in fact, be outdated.
- Public Records: Pre-foreclosure listings can be found for free, in the public records section at your county recorder’s office. Search for Notice of Default, Lis Pendens, and Notice of Sale. These notices are issued to the homeowner and publicly recorded during the foreclosure process. While it can be time-consuming to search through public records, it is also the most up-to-date way to build your pre-foreclosure list.
- Local Newspapers: Local newspapers publish the addresses of homes that are in any stage of the foreclosure process. Once the pre-foreclosure process begins, the homeowner will receive notices of foreclosure, including Lis Pendens which are also published in the local newspaper in the legal section. This is how the court gives public notice of foreclosures. This information is current, but you should know that it lacks specifics, like property info.
- Attorneys & Real Estate Wholesalers: Other valuable sources for building your pre-foreclosure list include attorneys and real estate wholesalers. These professionals already specialize in real estate and work with pre-foreclosure listings. Once you establish rapport with them, they may share their pre-foreclosure lead sources. Attorneys may represent clients whose homes are in pre-foreclosure or they may represent clients who inherited homes that they can’t afford, which are called probate leads. Either way, working with an attorney will provide you with valuable pre-foreclosure listings that other investors don’t have access to. You can find these attorneys as a referral from a real estate agent or by joining an investment group. Look for real estate, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and probate attorneys.
- Real estate wholesalers also have access to pre-foreclosure listings just from investing in and being in neighborhoods where people want to sell their homes. These wholesalers create buyer and seller lists that they save for their future fix and flip projects.
WHAT’S THE VALUE OF PRE-FORECLOSURE LISTINGS?
When considering the foreclosure process outlined at the beginning of this post, once things progress to Phase 3 (Notice of Trustee Sale), the homeowner is essentially out of options. But here’s the thing: according to Realtor.com, most homeowners who have defaulted on their loans, and have received a NOD, don’t realize that they can still sell their property. Therein lies the benefit of prospecting Pre-Foreclosure leads.
By engaging those homeowners who have received a NOD, you give them an opportunity to avoid foreclosure and possibly net enough to pay off everything they owe the lender, including back mortgage payments, penalties, and fees. Yes, they won’t own the house anymore, but by avoiding foreclosure they also avoid doing serious, long-term damage to their credit score.
In terms of prospecting Pre-Foreclosure leads, you would use the same Neighborhood Search scripts already included with Espresso Agent. You would, of course, not reveal that you are calling in reference to the homeowner’s foreclosure:
“Hi, we just sold John Smith’s home on Main Street for $X. We still have buyers interested in your neighborhood, and wonder if you have any interest in selling your home.”
Espresso Agent’s Pre-Foreclosure leads would make a valuable addition to your prospecting strategy.
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