FOR ALL OTHERS: The only "sellers market" in america is the foreclosure market. Don't expect any deals from a foreclosure as the bidding process brings 20-30 people to bid on almost every deal. A deal that was already priced at market. For government foreclosed homes, by law, they have to be priced "at market".
The REO manager has a short list of "cash/close in 2 day buyers", they always get the first right to bid. Then they have to wait for the "public auction" Which drives up those prices. After a 30-60 day period. Then the REO picks the best bid. Sometimes, only sometimes does a REO manager take a property directly to a buyer he knows peronsally. Why should he, he has a bunch of people bidding and driving up the prices.
My REO manager friend likes to joke about all the "first timers" who continue to drive up the bid when they don't hear anything from the bank. Every time I see the "how come I haven't heard from the bank about accepting my foreclosure bid after 30+ days" on trulia, I have to let out a chuckle because he's so right. For those newbies, this is real. They know that when you don't hear from them that a large percentage of people drop a second or third offer higher than the previous one. **WARNING, YOU ARE BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF HERE**
You want a deal on a property right, everyone wants that.... So the moral of this story is:
1. the 60 days you have to wait to hear from a REO, you could have made 2 or 3 better deals with a property that has been on the market for a long period of time. Any realtor can help you drop a crazy offer.
2. You are attempting to make a deal in a house covered in a cloud of bad energy, don't be surprised when it rubs off. Personally I stay away from these for this reason entirely.
3. One way to get a deal is dropping a hand written note on ANY house in a neighborhood you want to buy that says "my girlfriend and I want to buy a house in this neighborhood and yours looks cute from the outside. Do you know anyone that is looking to sell?" I always get responses, better prices and positive energy into the home.
1) Drive around neighborhoods that you think you'd like to live in. Pay special attention to homes that really look vacant. Homes that have shutters falling down or that look poorly cared for...that is, in a neighborhood where the other homes are well maintained. Look for signs of notices piling up near the door, hung on it or taped to the door or mailbox and papers building up. If it were spring or summer, poorly maintained lawns can also be an indication of a homeowner in trouble. Note the addresses of these residences. Then you can look them up in the public property records to get the homeowner's name. A simple whitepages search might return their phone number, and you can simply call them or mail them a note to see if they are interested in selling their home.
2) Drive around and look for auction signs that are posted on major intersections, and sign up for one if it's a house you're interested in. These may be foreclosures or just very motivated sellers. Auctions can be interesting, but make sure you do your research beforehand or let your agent help you find out more about the property so you truly know what it's worth before bidding.
3) Pick up a copy of the Tennessean...or local papers...homes in pre-foreclosure, etc. are listed right there in the paper.
4) Have your agent notify you of properties that come available that meet your criteria.
If you are woking with an agent they have access to all foreclosures and should be able to give you this information. There are also websites that are free, one I recommend is HomePath. These are Fannie Mae foreclosured properties and great buys! Let me know if I can help you in any way.