ForeclosurePoint, a Seattle-area data company, is offering free information about foreclosure filings, including property addresses and filing dates, to registered users.
The site offers a database of about 1.2 million properties with foreclosure filings in 35 states.
Free registration at the site allows users to search for properties by state, county, city and ZIP code area, and to specify property details such as property type (including residential, commercial, industrial and vacant land, among other categories), square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, foreclosure filing date and a range for a home-value estimate supplied by Zillow.
The Web site displays detailed information for properties listed in the search results, such as square footage and lot size, the date of foreclosure filings and whether a property has multiple foreclosure filings, and the estimated opening bid for a public auction on the property.
These public auctions are typically held on the steps of a county courthouse, and lenders end up taking back most of these properties and then listing the properties with a real estate brokerage company as real estate-owned, or REO, properties.
Many of the properties listed at the site are pre-foreclosures and may not be for sale — also, some of the properties that have foreclosure filings may end up avoiding foreclosure.
The site also uses Microsoft’s Virtual Earth mapping tool to display the location of properties.
"A foreclosure filing is a public record document. Our view is that information should be accessible at no cost," said Chris Matty, chief marketing officer for ForeclosurePoint, which provides data for about 800 U.S. counties.
"We are making street addresses viewable at no cost so a greater number of people have the opportunity to see these properties," he said. "This opens the door for (this) market being available to a greater number of buyers."
Foreclosure filings data is very relevant these days, he added, "because of the sheer volume of the properties."
The site does not provide information to free registered users about the name of the borrower and the current foreclosure status of the property — those and other additional details are available through a paid subscription service.
Another national foreclosure data company, RealtyTrac, does provide information about the foreclosure status of properties at no cost though that site does not provide property address information unless users are paid subscribers, by comparison.
Real estate professionals represent a "significant portion" of registered ForeclosurePoint users, Matty said, noting that in some market areas a sizable slice of transactions related to sales of properties that had been involved in a foreclosure process.
"If you’re a Realtor — if you’re not looking at the foreclosures or the distressed segment you really do yourself a disservice," Matty said. Foreclosure data "is becoming much more mainstream" just because of the high volume in foreclosure filings, he said, adding that the site can help connect home buyers who are looking for foreclosure properties to real estate professionals.
The site partners with real estate firms to embed its foreclosure-search platform at their Web sites, and ForeclosurePoint earlier this month announced a foreclosure data partnership with several RE/MAX firms.
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