If the question refers to properties pre-REO-Real Estate Owned and listed in MLS by a broker, then the answer is indeed: you can buy them at the auction. The auctions are conducted by licensed auctioneers either at the courthouse or different location. You will see them posted on the auctioneer website or through some foreclosures promoting websites.
Many times the auction dates are postponed or canceled, but when they happen, these are things you should expect:
- these are cash transactions, make sure to bring the check book with you
-make sure you check the property title before; there are no guarantees that there are no clouds on the title; the city records are usually 30 days behind and anything may happen in that period of time
-you may have a hard time to get title insurance
-the property may not be vacant; the former owners could still live on the premises; this being San Francisco, the property may have tenants and not knowing their situation could result in costly legal expenses in case you want to occupy the property and evict them.
These pre-foreclosure auctions are not for everyone, you need to know what you are doing and what risks you are taking.
Alina Aeby-Broker Associate, SFR
Pacific Union International/Christie's