This RealtyTrack thing shows foreclosed homes in the Palo Alto area with estimated buy-outs in the low 3-figure range. Is this a joke?

Asked by James, Palo Alto, CA Fri Aug 31, 2012

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Steven Ornellas’ answer
Steven Ornel…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Fri Aug 31, 2012
Hi James, YES!

RealtyTrac's primary objective is to separate you from the Dollars in your wallet on a monthly basis for information most any Realtor® can provide you for FREE. RealtyTrac is not a "distressed property MLS", they are simply using Trulia to take public record notices and syndicate the information to the web. Very few RealtyTrac listings are actually for sale:

Most distressed property is sold via Realtor® websites!


MLS Data Accuracy – Where to search if you’re “without Realtor®”…

To remove all RealtyTrac “foreclosure” 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.

You can get REAL 100% distressed property listings from a Realtor® for free; however, you would be making a mistake if you did not also look at non-distressed property as well. Here's a quick relative risk scale for distressed property (1 being the most risky):

1) Trustee Sale (court house steps)
2) Auction Company Sale (you bidding in a pressure environment)
3) REO (reduced disclosure requirements),
4) Short Sale (primarily risk is approval timeline)

I always suggest a custom automated MLS search agent be set-up to make sure you are seeing property that is actually for sale.

2 votes
Marcy Moyer, Agent, San Ramon, CA
Fri Aug 31, 2012
As everyone has said these homes are not for sale, they are people who are behind in their mortgages. Also, Realty Track does not separate Palo Alto from East Palo Alto so most of the homes that are listed in PA are actually not. It may be a joke depending on the reader's sense of humor. It is without question false advertising.
Marcy Moyer
DRE 01191194
Web Reference:
1 vote
Juliana Lee…, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Fri Aug 31, 2012
I know people who have made good money buying foreclosed properties in very hard hit areas. They have made it a full time profession. This has been happening long enough that it has become very competitive and challenging for even a full-time professional. A service such as RealtyTrac is unlikely to provide a part time investor with unique information that can be readily used to turn a profit.

If a home is foreclosed, offered as a short sale, or REO and is listed on the Multiple Listing Service it can be easily found at

People make mistakes which can create profits for those who can quickly seize them. Of course the greater the mistake the less likely for it to occur. Locally there seem to be plenty of people with money ready to buy any "good deal". Many of these people don't have time to personally search for critical information or manage improvements to the property. If you want to get a "great investment" first think carefully about what skills and efforts you personally can use to give yourself an advantage. Look for opportunities where your advantage will give you a better return than your competiton.

Examples of personal advantages include: willingness to live in home while it is being remodeled and participating in the remodeling, managing an investment property for the owner you sell it to, changing zoning or property use, ...

Best wishes,
Juliana Lee - 650-857-1000
Keller Williams Realty - Palo Alto
Web Reference:
1 vote
Grace Hanamo…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Fri Aug 31, 2012
My pal Steve-O is right on with his comments. There is no greater misrepresentation to the buying public than these "come on" postings by Realty Trac.

If you'd like to purchase a great home, work with a Realtor or you can see all of the homes for sale in any area by going straight to the MLS in our area at

Good luck!!
Grace M.
Area Pro Realty-People's Choice

P. S. Thumbs to you, Steve!
1 vote
John Juarez, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sun Sep 2, 2012
As pointed out repeatedly, if you think that you can buy homes in Palo Alto for the amounts shown on RealtyTrac, then – yes – it is a joke and the joke is on you.
0 votes
The Medford…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sun Sep 2, 2012
Guess what … if the listing has the logo for RealtyTrac ...

Then what you are seeing is NOT an actual listing … it is an advertisement for RealtyTrac.

RealtyTrac is a provider of data for distressed homes. This data is used by investors and Realtors to track distressed homes. When you see the RealtyTrac logo, you are not looking at a home that is actually available for you to buy: what you are seeing at is either (1) the notice of default for one of the mortgages on the property in question, (2) a notice of an impending trustee sale or (3) a notice of a completed trustee sale.

RealtyTrac notices can be very deceptive because they usually give loan amounts, not the purchase price or fair market value. When and if this particular property hits the market, it will be at market price for the neighborhood.

Bottom line: RealtyTrac is trying to get you to sign up for their service.

The following links may be helpful:

When Is The Price Not The Price?

It’s Too Good To Be True: REALLY – Top 4 Buyer Myths

If you want to know when these or similar properties will actually hit the market, have a Realtor set you up with an auto-feed that will alert you the moment they become active on the MLS.
0 votes
Cindy Davis, Agent, San Diego, CA
Fri Aug 31, 2012
I agree with my colleague below. Realty Trac is one of the biggest rip offs I've ever deal with over the years. What you may be seeing is the amount that is owed to the lender....
0 votes
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