Carol, I am going to assume your foreclosure question is about the buying process and not the process a seller goes through with the lender before they loose their home. Foreclosure properties are listed on the MLS. That is the system Realtors have access to. The property is "ready" to sell at that point and a buyer knows that they are purchasing a home that has a clear title search (buyer pruchases title insurance along with all other tipical closing costs) and non of the previous owners debts against the home will come back to get the new owner. Foreclosure homes can be purchased at good discounts, but are not given away. The bank will accept a certain percentage of what is owed on the home as full payment in order to get the property off their books.
Your second question, I believe, would better cover a "tax sale" or Sheriff's sale". This is dangerous water for most buyers that are looking for a bargain. Many of these homes are bought sight unseen. Most buyers don't have the time and expertise or the money to pay someone to go to the court house and search the records for the history (outstanding debt, liens, etc.) on the properties they are interested in bidding on. I'll give you an example. If you were the successful bidder on a home that was valued at $100,000.00 and you got it for the taxes owed of $2,900, you'd be jumping up and down for joy, wouldn't you? Not really. Because, you've just bought a home with all it's outstanding debt. You could owe the outstanding amount on several lines of credit that the previous owner took out against the home, or have mechanics leins, etc. This amount could total anywhere from a few thousand dollars to more then the home is actually worth. You've just bought the previous owners debt load and the reason they got behind in their taxes and lost the home.
If you'd like even more information about these two subjects, feel free to contact me.
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