Hi, Erik -
Regarding bank foreclosure properties: there is a period after the trustee sale where the property is in a "pre-list" status, meaning that the bank needs to make arrangements with the prior owner to vacate the property and/or any tenants that may be there as well. There are occasions where tenants have a valid lease and will be remaining in the property throughout the sale, and even after until their lease expires. In the majority of cases, the property will be vacant before it is listed on the MLS. During the pre-list phase, the bank also has appraisals done on the property to determine the listing price, and property inspections to determine the condition of the property and if it will qualify for financing or need to be a cash sale. The bank also determines if there are any outstanding liens on the property, such as deliquent HOA dues or property taxes. The bank clears these items in order to provide clear title to the new owner. Once the background work is done, the property will become available for real estate agents to show to their clients.
So, to see a foreclosure property, you would use your agent, just as you would to see a standard sale or other type of listing. There should be a lockbox on the property for your agent's use.
Financing a foreclosure property is similar to any other type of property. The differences to be aware of are that often the bank will not make any repairs to the property. If there are health and safety issues that keep the property from qualifying for financing, the bank may choose to do those specific repairs: plumbing, heat, a functioning kitchen. Or the bank may choose to sell for cash, most likely to an investor who will rehab the property and resell it once it can qualify for financing. Another major difference is that traditionally a bank will not offer a home warranty to the buyer (although the buyer can purchase their own) and sometimes will not do required termite repairs either. Your agent can help explain all the different aspects of the purchase, escrow and loan process. There are a lot of factors! But to sum up, the real difference is that the seller (the bank) will not provide many of the repairs and niceties that a traditional owner would. Other than that, you see the property and purchase the property pretty much the same way. Do your inspections! Remember, the bank did not live in the property and so cannot disclose to you if a toilet overflowed or the roof leaked in the past.....Good luck to you!