Since I'm not sure of how much you understand about the foreclosure process I'll start at the beginning of this story...
A Notice of Default (NOD) is the first step in the non-judicial foreclosure process (a judicial foreclosure is another option; however, it is rarely exercised by the lender due to the time and cost of its legal process.) A NOD simply means that the homeowner has reached a point of payment delinquency that the Lender feels moving forward with exercising their right to foreclose is prudent. A NOD it does not mean that it is a home for sale, in fact, the owner can â€œcureâ€ the NOD by making up all the late payments. Typically, the non-judicial (i.e. Trustee) foreclosure process takes about 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days (starting with the Notice of Default and ending with the Trustee sale/auction on the County Courthouse steps). However, currently, some lenders are taking 9-months to complete a foreclosure due to the sheer volume! If nobody buys the home during the Trustee sale/auction (including the lender themselves) the home becomes the lenderâ€™s property. Lenders who end up with properties contract with local Realtors to list the property on the MLS (a small percentage also forward the property to an auction company for liquidation). Auctions are a different animal all together. If you have a strong stomach for mystery and risk there are two types:
Trustee Sale - If you are looking for actual Trusteeâ€™s Sale auctions, they are published in the newspaper on a weekly basis under â€œpublic notices.â€ Notices are also typically posted at the entrance of the County courthouse. "Loans" need not apply: California state law requires liquid funds when your bid is accepted. The Trustee accepts cash or cashierâ€™s checks (and nothing else). Most who do this on an ongoing basis will go to the auction with several denominations of cashierâ€™s checks up to the amount they are willing to pay for the property of interest. Any set cashier's check overage will be returned to you. Condition of the property is a major concern, and you need to perform a high level of due diligence to make sure you do not get stuck with a house that has major problems.
Auction Company â€“ Each auction company will have their individual process posted on their website to tell you about deposit requirements and how to view the homes (i.e. http://www.williamsauction.com ). You have to have a cashiers check for deposit at a public auction. Seasoned bidders will have multiple cashiers checks of different denominations to make up a particular bid of a home. These auctions allow the bank(s) to unload lots of properties faster in this "bid-up" environment. It's really more of a pressure sales environment based on the premise that pitting buyers against each other results in higher selling prices for the sellers. I'd stay clear of these sales-oriented auction properties. Have a drop-dead figure for each property you bid on and once you reach it â€œwalk away.â€ Although you do get some time to do inspections, this is really a process for someone who can walk into a house and know what it will cost to place it back into shape. You can pay to have inspections done, but this might cause you to bid up the price of the home during auction time so you don't waste your money paid for the inspections. Really, there's no reason to be in an environment whose sole purpose is bidding-up a property's price in these times.
Now, a few words about RealtyTrac:
One of the companies that Trulia has a data share agreement with is RealtyTrac. I'm not sure if you are only interested in distressed property; however, RealtyTrac is not a "distressed property MLS", they simply take public record notices and syndicate the information to the web. If you are looking for this type of property, you should know that distressed property is almost always sold via Realtor MLS systems (to provide the widest exposure as possible since 99.99% of AOR MLS listings are automatically fed to the national http://www.realtor.com website).
Your absolute best source for up-to-the-minute information is a local Realtor with direct MLS access in the geographic area you are looking in. Please team with a Realtor and have them set up an automated "search agent" for you so you get notifications (that match your search criteria) automatically via email as soon as they are made on the MLS.
To remove all RealtyTrac â€œforeclosureâ€ listings from your Trulia search results go to your search results page. Check out the Refine Search box on the left and scroll down to 'Listing Type'. Uncheck the 'foreclosure' selection and your search will update automatically and filter out all RealtyTrac listings.