If it is the owner renting their own property they unfortunately are not bound by the same rules as licensed Brokers are. To check on the status of the property you can look online at the Register of deeds website for the county you are looking in. Usually the first sign is that there is a filing to substitute the Trustee for the deed. They are moving the deed to a foreclosure attorneys office.
Or you can go down to the register of deeds office in NC and go to the office for Special Proceedings this is where all the public records are for any property that is default and the lender has started the foreclosure property. All you need is the property address and the owner's name.
Hope this helps,