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Investing in Real Estate Foreclosures

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Foreclosure investment refers to the process of investing capital in the public sale of a mortgaged property following foreclosure of the loan secured by that property.

Introduction to the foreclosure market

In real estate, foreclosure is the termination of the [equity] of redemption[1] of a mortgagor or the grantee in the property covered by the mortgage. Foreclosure investment has become more important recently in response to skyrocketing real estate costs. The average person nowadays needs to investigate all avenues to purchase real estate at a 'reasonable' cost. By investigating the foreclosure market, the investor can get a better grasp of the real estate investment arena. Depending on the type of foreclosure proceeding, the sale may be administered by the courts (Judicial Foreclosure) or by an appointed trustee (Statutory Foreclosure). Proceeds from the sale are used to satisfy the claims of the mortgagee primarily, with any excess going to the mortgagor. Anyone may bid on properties sold at a foreclosure sale. As a practical matter, however, most properties are acquired by the lender, often for the amount owed on the foreclosed loan.

When interest rates rise, home owners with variable interest rates[2] often become over extended, providing opportunities for foreclosure investment professionals to obtain investment properties at depressed prices. The most common reason for foreclosure is dissolution of a marriage. The next most common reason for is a failed business venture.[3] Foreclosure investing can provide favorable returns. However, there is an awful lot to know in order to avoid the problems that can occur; thus, it is not recommended for beginners to the market.

Stages of foreclosure

The foreclosure process begins when a financially distressed homeowner fails to make a loan payment and is served with a summons from his or her creditors. After service, papers will be filed with the county clerk's office and be made a matter of public record (in some areas the place where deeds and mortgages are registered may go by a different name, such as the office of the land registrar). This notice is usually known as Lis Pendens, which is Latin for "pending legal action." At this point, any attempts by the homeowner to borrow from public credit sources will be met with a negative response. On completion of the publication process, the foreclosure action will be permitted to proceed and the owners have a limited amount of time to pay up, sell, or make other deals with creditors. If none of these actions are taken, a forclosure sale will take place. If no one bids the amount owed, the property reverts to the lender and becomes a REO (real estate owned) property held in inventory by the lender. Experienced foreclosure investors may work in all of these various stages, but the possibility of making a transaction with the homeowner is no longer possible after the property is a REO.[4]

Why investing in foreclosures can be difficult

Often, the home owner in foreclosure is in a financially difficult situation, and in addition to the calls from creditors, the home owner may also be inundated with calls from other investors, mortgage brokers and real estate agents. It can be difficult to find a home owner who is willing to work with you, and who is in a situation where you can help. In addition, rejection can run high as foreclosures are stopped, doors are slammed, and telephones are hung-up on you.

Steps to take to get started in foreclosure investing

One of the key components of getting started is education, making sure that the information studied is state specific. Depending on residence, much of the national content may not apply in a particular state or may be illegal. After understanding the specific state's foreclosure process the next step is to find a foreclosure data provider who can supply the latest foreclosures as they start in the state. While foreclosure information for the most part is public record, working with a foreclosure data provider can save a lot of time. With a fresh list of foreclosures, the next step is to contact home owners in foreclosure and begin working with them directly to stop the foreclosure proceedings.


  1. ^ Equity of redemption is the right of an owner to redeem property securing a loan that has been accelerated prior to foreclosure
  2. ^ A variable interest rate is an amount of compensation to a lender that is allowed to vary over the maturity of a loan. The amount of variation is generally governed by an appropriate index
  3. ^ Theodore J. Dallow, How to Buy Foreclosed Real Estate, Adams Media Corporation 2000
  4. ^ George Achenback, Foreclosure Properties, 4th Ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1999



See Also:

Buying a Foreclosure Property Below Market Value: Five Tips from the Pros

Foreclosures: Bargain hunters beware!



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