The people who made the most money during the California Gold Rush of the 1800s were the grocers and other providers who sold goods to the prospectors. Today, the people making the most money off the great deals to be found snapping up foreclosures are selling the lists, how-to programs, and access to the websites that publish the data on pre- and post- foreclosures.
You don’t believe me? Fine. Pay your $49.95 per month for access to the lists and then go convince one of the people who have had a notice of default published that they should sell to you instead of going through the disgrace of foreclosure. Keep in mind that someone in this kind of financial trouble is not a particularly reliable source of information about the true state of the property in question, or about other liens there might be against the property besides the one that filed the notice. Are you an investor? In this case, that means someone who does not intend to live in the property. If you are, then a Realtor cannot represent you because there is an odd law called the Home Equity Sales Contract Law that says they can’t without a bond that doesn’t exist. So you are on your own to negotiate the jungle of preliminary title reports and what they mean among other technical issues. Also, the seller can claim duress anytime up to 2 years after the sale and have the sale rescinded, plus collect damages against you
Another thing to keep in mind is that the minute a notice of default is recorded against a property, the owner starts receiving all kinds of letters and notices from attorneys, lenders, investors, and other individuals who all promise they have the magic pill that will cure all the homeowner’s financial problems and allow them to keep the property or sell it at a profit or win the lotto or something. The homeowner quickly becomes immune to any communication relating to the property due purely to mail overload. And phone call overload if their phone number is listed
You can buy yourself a cheap foreclosure on the steps of the courthouse because the website says that the equity is 40%. Of course, you have no access to the property, no inspection or disclosure rights, and when you become the owner of the property you get to be the one who evicts the unfortunate tenants or former owners from the site. In the City of Los Angeles and other communities with rent control laws, you may find yourself with tenants you cannot get rid of. And anywhere, if they are there with a valid lease, a change of ownership does not affect their right to live out the terms of the lease. Also, if the lien holder in second or third position is the one foreclosing, you may find that you have a senior deed of trust that you are now responsible for paying.
In actual real life, most foreclosures eventually become listed by Realtors who have a relationship with the lender that obtains the property. They get to make sure the tenants vacate, secure the property and do whatever cleanup/fixup the bank approves. Then the property is listed on the Multiple Listing Service and is treated just like any other listed property, which means you can call me to represent you on the purchase. Sometimes they are listed for a really low price and there are multiple offers, sometimes the bank is just like many sellers who think they need to get more than what any buyer is willing to pay for the property.
Does this make you want to run out and pick up a foreclosure list or sign up for access to a foreclosure site? Call me, I have a great bargain for you. It’s out in the desert. It’s a bridge!