No, it is not easy.
Yes, it will take time.
No, the target will not be receptive to your proposition.
Yes, there are strategies that work well to facilitate the purchase/sale of such real estate.
No, agents are unlikely to commit to a strategy with a 1-in-200 chance of success without a commitment from you. (the odds are higher buying certs)
Here is a real story playing out today.
$150K, 3/2/2, home, in a a community of $220K homes (Trulia stats)
Four offers received.
1 - $122K local buyer (Cash)
2. - $131K local buyer (Cash)
3 - $149 K from Blackstone (big investor) (Cash)
4 - $151K from shelter seeker. (Cash)
5. $156K from shelter seeker with FHA backed financing.
This home WILL appraise at $179K and the bank will very likely counter at $165K.
Which of the above buyers would you select knowing how this will eventually play out.
Which of these buyer best describe you?
Would you have won the bid?
As the example above shows and others have shared, there is significant competition and a lot of buyers who are pretending. You are CORRECT in thinking some properties can be secured BEFORE they are known to the public. This option is reserved for those identified as 'A-List' buyers, Those who are clear what they will buy. Actually will buy what you find them that meets their criteria. Have the ability to buy.
The choice is up to you how you want to proceed. One option is to contact a professional, present your credentials, and make a commitment.
Best of success to you,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, FL
So, if the house is under water you will be negotiating a 'short sale', in other words asking the current lender to take less than what is owed on the house. I do a lot of short sales and I can tell you this is no easy task. You would be much better off having a realtor and/or an attorney representing you in those negotiations and here's the really good news, the realtors' services cost you nothing!
On the off chance that you find a home in foreclosure that does, in fact, have equity, you certainly could try to find the owner and make a deal with them. But the odds of you finding such a home are slim.
Ownership as well as state of delinquency (notice of default or notice of trustee sale) are public record so you would know who the owners are. Such notices will show how much is the delinquent amount and what needs to be paid to bring the account current. The owners mortgage statement will also show how much the pay off amount will be...if not, this could be in the escrow process once you and the sellers come into a mutual agreement for purchase.
On a Short Sale then no the lender taking the often significant loss will require hte property to be listed for sale by a Realtor on the MLS system.
If you have all cash you can learn the ropes at the courthouse and buy at the auction. It's not for the risk averse and rookie, there are a lot of ins and outs. You may be able to hire someone to teach you the process. I think there are companies that will do that for a few thousand.
All the best,