About 15 years ago, I became interested in real estate investment. It was just after I’d started my first job in Connecticut and was able to save up a bit of cash. I was looking for a good investment for some of that money. Searching the Internet for free websites for foreclosed homes in the United States, using the form that the Internet existed in 15 years ago, resulted in nothing more than a long list of real estate investment scams or websites looking for membership dues. Very little on the Internet was free back then.
Discovering Free Websites for Foreclosed Homes
Back then, I gave up my search and instead chose to put my money into a retirement fund. Sure, I probably could have gone to the courthouse and dug up the property addresses of homeowners who were served with a legal notice of foreclosure, but my normal job didn’t allow for the time it would take to do that.
Fifteen years later, the Internet has transformed into an entire playground of free services and information sources related to real estate. Yes, there are still countless websites that are looking to charge monthly membership fees for "detailed information" on properties, but considering the fact that all of that information is freely available via public records, there’s no reason you should ever pay for it. Thankfully, there are now a number of excellent free websites for foreclosed homes. MakeUseOf has touched on a few websites where you can find homes for sale, such as Jerry’s list of the 5 most significant online property search engines, or Adam’s list of 20 real estate search and information tools. However, if you’re looking to invest in foreclosures, the websites below are the first places to check out.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development
If there’s only one place you go for information on properties for sale that are either in foreclosure, bank owned or government owned, that place should be the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). By far, it’s the most comprehensive (and absolutely free) source of listings for all properties for sale from government agencies such as:
- Department of Veterans Affairs
- The IRS
- U.S. Marshals Service
- Fannie Mae
- Freddie Mac
- Department of Agriculture
The cool thing about properties offered at this website is that they include both single family and multifamily homes, which is great if you’re looking for a nice rental property to buy at a low price. Don’t forget to check out special deals through HUD, like a 50 percent discount off HUD homes for teachers and community emergency personnel, or $1 homes for local community non-profit organizations that want to fix up properties for low or moderate income residents. This site is overflowing with information on where to find foreclosed homes.
Free Foreclosure Database
FreeForeclosureDatabase is one of the first websites that offers a truly "free" search for foreclosed homes, without requiring you to sign up for any sort of trial membership. From the main page, all you have to do is search for your city and state, price range and property type (or just click on the map of the U.S.).
When you click on the "detailed listing," unlike other sites that make you provide your email address or sign up for a "trial membership," this website truly offers free information about the property.
You can view the street address and the agent’s name and number to contact for more information about purchasing the foreclosed property. This is one of the few websites where you get access to contact information for absolutely free – making this site one of the best out there.
WatchForeclosure Won’t Try Selling a "Trial Membership"
Another great website that offers foreclosure listings that are truly free is. This website offers a very simple free foreclosure search where you click on any state on a map of the U.S.
For Maine alone, the search returned 223 properties throughout the entire state. Most listings are very current, and when you click on the property link you typically get a great picture, property details and the contact information for an agent to contact.
You’ll notice that you get access to property detail and contact information for absolutely free – no email required and no trial membership that traps you into a long-term commitment.
REO Source for Bank Owned Properties
Another great website for finding foreclosed properties is REOSource. REO stands for "Real Estate Owned," and it means properties that are now owned by the bank. Some of these may be going through foreclosure, but many didn’t sell at auction and are simply being held by the bank until they can find a seller. You could sift through the lists of national banks one at a time, or you can use the REOSource search engine.
This search engine turned up only thirteen properties for Maine, but each listing was fairly current and had complete contact details for the agent in charge of the property.
Foreclosure Searches – Try the Do it Yourself Approach
The best way to find the most comprehensive listings is to go through individual national bank websites and search their REO listings for your state. You can find a fairly good list of bank REO websites at Mortgage News Daily, or you can use the public records section of OnlineSearches to search through foreclosure and tax lien sale records offered for free from your state government.
Just click on your state to search any free public records for any properties in your area that have a tax lien on it. In most cases, you’ll find those properties are already in foreclosure, or at least pre-foreclosure.
Whatever you do, never sign up for the trial offers that major real estate companies put up as an obstacle to find foreclosed homes. It’s in the best interest of retail real estate to keep these low-cost foreclosed properties difficult to access, because cheap homes bring down overall real estate prices. What they don’t want you to know is that through the type of resources listed in this article, you can find all of those same properties, with just a little bit of extra work, for absolutely free.
Have you ever purchased a foreclosed home? Did you use any online tools to find it? Share your own experiences in the comments section below.