Five Ways to Find Foreclosures

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One of the challenges facing President Obama in dealing with the struggling housing market is going to be tackling the staggering number of foreclosures on the market.

In the Financial Stability Plan, introduced today by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the government is proposing spending $50 billion on foreclosure prevention programs (see Inman News story). And while this may help stem the tide of future foreclosures it won’t help those homeowners who have already lost their homes.

Also contained in the package are a $15,000 tax credit and the lure of 4.5% mortgage, which may stimulate some home buying activity once the bill is signed into law, but until some of that inventory is absorbed any return to a more “normal” real estate market remains in question.

The good news is, it seems many buyers are eying foreclosure properties. According to Realtor.com’s most recent data, searches on their site have surged in California, Florida. In fact, Fort Myers, Florida, profiled in the NY Times Magazine over the weekend (see In Florida, Despair and Foreclosures), had the largest year-over-year gain in search activity at Realtor.com in December, up 106.1 percent from December 2007.

So, if you’re looking at foreclosures, here a five resources you can find online.

RealtyTrac

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RealtyTrac has been ubiquitous lately. Their data and spokespeople pop up nearly any time foreclosures are mentioned in the news (kudos to them for a great PR campaign). Their site offers a wealth of data on foreclosures and a great search tool. Searches are free but a monthly membership is required to see the full listing information on any of the properties in their database.

ForeclosureRadar

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A great site for buyers focused on the California market. Designed for professionals, ForeclosureRadar offers a suite of tools for tracking and analyzing the foreclosure market. Realtors wanting to offer this service to their buyers can integrate ForeclosureRadar’s search tool directly into their own web site.

Foreclosure.com

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Like RealtyTrac, Foreclosure.com offers a comprehensive national search tool for foreclosures. They also offer training program for consumers and agents who want to starting buying or working with foreclosures.

Homepath

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Homepath is operated by Fannie Mae, and contains only properties that are actually owned by the mortgage giant. These REO homes are available for purchase immediately, though buyers must submit an offer through a real estate agent or broker to the listing agent in order to do so.

Houses.net

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Houses.net is a new site that focuses exclusively on homes that are in the pre-foreclosures. According to company sources, they currently have over 40,000 homes in their database and that number is growing daily.