The amount of the legal action reported on Realty Trac may not represent the total liens on the property, but only the amount of the party who filed a complaint (legal action.)
Example: Market value of house - 500K. 1st Mortgage - in default.......Amount reported by Realty Trac is $380,000. That may not be the only lien that has to be cleared.... There might also be a HELOC (line of credit) for $85,000. In addition, there might be liens as a result of other judgements. The homeowner may have fallen behind on other bills, also. There could be 2 other liens as a result of judgements that total $77,000. The total of all of these liens may exceed market value. Looking at the Realty Trac number of 380,000 does not provide the full picture.
If the 1st lender forecloses, the subsequent liens may be wiped out. As an REO property, the lender would own a property valued at 500K market.
Reatly Trac data is often outdated.
if you research the property, you can probably find out what liens appear against the property. In order to pass a clear title, all liens have to be clear. This can happen if the lien holders are paid in full, or agree to accept a lesser amount as payment in full. Comps will provide an estimate of market value.
Realty Trac does not list "properties for sale." Do not assume that because there is a legal action involving a property that a homeowner wants to sell. Many times, a homeowner will seek alternative remedies to the situation. That might be restructuring the debt w/ the existing lender, a refinance, borrowing$$ from family or friends, leveraging other assets, bankruptcy, and....in some cases, error may have caused a filing of a action that will be dismissed. Yes, some financially stressed homeowners may be looking to sell. You might find a few leads at Realty Trac, but expect many homeowner to be unreceptive to any contact or solicitation, if they are not interested in selling.
Ask a local Realtor to for assistance. Some of the homes on realtytrac are already on the market and, unfortunately, some are so outdated that they have already been sold. Good luck!