Cathy, Florida is a judicial state. The only way to foreclose on a property is through the court system. A foreclosure requires court oversight and allows the property owner to a hearing if they want one. The judicial process could be as short as 135 days. Most are much longer.
The foreclosure process is initiated by the lender filing notice of Lis Pendens on title with the clerk of the circuit court. The court then issue a summons to all interested parties. This could include the owner, lender(s), association, etc. The property owner or borrower has 20 days to respond. If the borrow chooses not to fight the foreclosure then a default is issued.
If a borrower does file a response to the default notice then the court sets motions and associated dates for the process to continue. If the borrow files for bankruptcy in the middle of the foreclosure process, things will be delayed further.
In 2009 Fort Myers has 24,000 notices of default. The court set up a system to hear 1000 cases per day to move the system along. This system was dubbed the Rocket Docket. Assuming the borrower loses at the foreclosure hearing, then the court issues a judgment. The judgment is forwarded to the clerk of the circuit court who sets a date and time for the sale of the property within 35 days. The clerk continues to notice the sale once a week between two and six weeks.
The sale proceeds unless the borrower redeems the property. When a homeowner defaults on a loan, usually the creditor will attempt to re-take the property that served as collateral for the loan. The right of redemption is when there is a statutory period in which the debtor can satisfy its debt and avoid losing the collateral. Florida law provides a right of redemption in which a foreclosed homeowner can redeem the property and avoid losing the home.
If you go to an auction at the court house you might find yourself bidding against the lender trying to redeem the property as collateral. The clerk of circuit court has a calendar of properties to be auctioned. Some counties such as Sarasota and Manatee have online bidding for these properties.
The websites like Realty Trac and Foreclosures.com show distressed properties but this information is not in real time. Only the information carried by government agencies is in real time.
Alma Kee gave you some good information as well.
Our website allows you to sign up for your free Listingbook account which allows you to search the MLS like an agent. The MLS contains traditional and distressed properties, including bank owned and short sales. Residential, Income and Commercial.