RealtyTrac "listings" are NOT listings as the real estate buying public understands them. As I have said many times before in these posts, RealtyTrac information is at best confusing and at worst downright wrong. It is really of no benefit if you are looking for homes for sale.
The reason there are so many "listings" in RealtyTrac is because they report all Notice Of Default ("NOD") filings, not homes for sale. So anyone who gets behind on their mortgage can have an NOD filed against them, and if they have 3 mortgages they can have 3 NOD's filed against them. Just because someone gets behind on their mortgage, does not necessarily mean that they will sell their home or lose it to foreclosure. Statistically speaking, in Los Angeles County over the past three months, 8,000 properties on average had NODs filed against them each month, about 2,400 had a Notice of Trustee sale filed and about 1,000 actually went back to the bank. RealtyTrac does not tell you when someone cures their default, works something out with the lender, or files for Bankruptcy. In the recent past only 10 - 20 percent of all NODs ever resulted in foreclosure. And, although I do not have any statistics on it, probably a similar percent of home owners decide to sell (with some being successful before the foreclosure and some not).
So, if you are truly looking to purchase a home, hook up with a good real estate agent and let them find you the deals. RealtyTrac will be of no help to you unless you want to call or visit the owners of every home in default and ask them to sell you their home. If this is not your intent, don't dwell on this very misleading information, instead focus on finding what you really want in a Realtor and a Home and move in that direction. Best of luck in your home hunting endeavors and Dare to Dream.
Real Estate Consultant
RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty
To view the Bank/Gov Databases of properties for sale (REO/Foreclosure).
http://www.biggerpockets.com/bank-reo.html ... http://www.biggerpockets.com/bank-reo.html
You will find databases like these plus information on the purchase/bid process..
http://hud2.towerauction.net/CA.htm ... http://www.wamuproperties.com/
Hope this helps, Dunes
As the local RealtyTrac representative for my area in East Ventura County, I not only follow the local foreclosure activity and have experience successfully guiding my clients through foreclosure purchases but of course, I have a RealtyTrac "membership" and I am always happy to look up the details for people that contact me but do not have a subscription to RealtyTrac. Your local person should be willing to do the same for you and hopefully has similiar experience. Good Luck with your home search and I would strongly recommend selecting a professional Realtor sooner rather than later. They will be compensated the same whether they start working with you now or later. Why not have their assistance through the entire process.
To expand on Shel-lee's answer. The public's understanding of the MLS or multiple listing service is pretty far off. Multiple Listing Services exist for one purpose and one purpose only. They exist so Real Estate Brokers can have a set of rules to govern the sharing of Brokerage commissions. This is why only Brokers can belong to MLS services and the general public cannot as there is a requirement to have a real estate license to earn a commission. The Listing Broker, the Broker who contracts with a home seller to sell the home; is referred as taking a listing. This is because the Broker belonging to the Multiple Listing Service agrees to the rules of the MLS to share the listings with other participating Brokers. The amount of the commission the listing broker wants to share with the other Brokers is posted in the MLS. The listing Broker owns the entire commission, this MLS was created as a way for the listing broker to offer a portion of the listing brokers commission to a broker representing buyers. Participating Brokers must share all listings they take with the MLS and must state who much of the listing commission they are willing to share with the other participating Brokers.
In the days before the MLS, the Broker representing the home Seller was taking a 7%-10% brokerage fee and the Broker representing the buyer was collecting a separate Brokerage fee from the Buyer.
Realty Track is not a "BROKERAGE" and they are not members of MLS's. They are a company that tracks public records and sell the information they farm from the public records.