The only true way to know if a property will be getting foreclosed is to find out if a lis pendens has been filed against the property. Not all foreclosures are preceded by short sales, although most are preceded by frustration, which unfortunately, due to Google's lack of a 'frustration mapping index' site, is unavailable to the general public.
How do you find out about the lis pendens? Again, a good buyer's agent will figure it out. Otherwise, you can attempt to navigate the Cook County Recorder of Deeds website. It must be recorded per county law.
Just remember, a home may have a lis pendens, but not be taken back by the bank for a long time, upwards of two years, if not longer depending on how much the property is worth, how much is owed, and how much coffee the foreclosure facilitating professional in cubicle 2371b drank that day.
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