I see a lot of realtytrac listings. Are they for real? Or a scam?

Asked by Snarkalot, Long Beach, CA Mon Apr 14, 2008

you have to register so I assume that they throw a lot of spam or are eventually very expensive. Can you give any advice?


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Jeff B., Home Buyer, River Forest, IL
Thu May 7, 2009
We were home shopping recently and my wife signed up for the free trial and (of course) she forgot to cancel in time so we were charged $50. It's her fault, not theirs - but I was still frustrated since we were never serious about buying a foreclosure - she was just curious of all our options. Now we get calls all the time from realty trac and a bunch of other foreclosure type services (often recordings). I think they sold our phone number. I don't know if she gets a bunch of email since she probably wouldn't tell me since I'm still upset about the $50.
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Mark Atteber…, Agent, Louisville, KY
Thu May 7, 2009
Would you buy a car without driving it just because it was a good price? Wouldn't you at least pop the hood? Buying a house at the courthouse is virtually the same thing, but with many more zeros at the end.

Waiting until the bank buys it at the steps and then lists it with a realtor CLEANS UP THE TITLE. You are not obligated for the back taxes or any other cloud on the title. You get to inspect the property--they probably won't fix anything and you purchase AS-IS, but you get to see what you are paying for. YOU WILL MOST LIKELY GET A BETTER PRICE. When the bank buys it back at the steps they took the hit on their financial books. When they sell it they actually have income to offset the loss.

I work with a lot of investors and the all tell me the same thing...buying sight unseen and being surprised by a last minute lien is never pleasant.

Work with someone experienced in foreclosures or shortsales and find a great deal! Sorry, I'm not licensed in CA.
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Notstupid, Home Buyer, Yorba Linda, CA
Wed May 6, 2009
I get it, you washed up agents are so desperate for something, anything that will get you that commission check, that you've taken to mining these ignorant commentators for any possible leads. Good luck with that. Maybe you should have gotten real educations and not gone for the easy buck. Stupid hurts.
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Dorene Slavi…, Agent, Torrance, CA
Wed Jul 2, 2008
I have found information on these sites to be both outdated and incorrect. If you are interested in an area, have your realtor do a titie search for homes in NOD and Forclosure. You can then work together to find a good investment property.
Web Reference:  http://www.doreneslavitz.com
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Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Fri May 30, 2008
Hi Snarkalot:

Realtytrac does what it is set up to do – they sell specific information they collect to interested parties - inform people about what is coming up for foreclosure and REO properties.
A few problems they have – the information collected are recorded notices of defaults which can be outdated; they can also be only one of several liens happened to be recorded at the time; the listed price you see are often the amount owned on that one lien the NOD is against, and that lien can be 1st, 2nd or whatever is defaulted on (that’s why you sometimes see $30,000 for a $300,000 house). The price does not have much correlation to what the house is worth.
They charge $49.99 a month for the information your Realtor can get from the tile company, maybe a better format and your Realtor will have a way to check on certain information about the sales history, the property info and certain loan info on the property. Eventually, most of the properties that are foreclosed on become what we called Bank Owned (REO) properties which are usually listed and sold through Realtors because banks are not in the business of selling homes.
My suggestion is to find a reliable Realtor and have he/she helps you with your search and purchase of distressed properties.

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Charita King…, , Downey, CA
Fri May 30, 2008
Realtytrac is real but the a lot of the listings posted are old. The website is set up to get people to sign up for the program. when you sign up, you supposed to have access to the reo properties and will get connected to the agents in the area, agents who are only members of the program. I wouldn't recommended to sign up to get REOs in your area of interest. I have a better access to the pre foreclosures and can tell you exactly what properties are currently in default and with auction dates.

Let me know,
Charita King 562-276-8681
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Linda Slocum,…, , Santa Clarita, CA
Wed Apr 23, 2008
If you're looking to buy homes at auction on the courthouse steps, then services like RealtyTrac can be helpful. However, be aware that the "prices" are the amounts due on the mortgages being foreclosed, and are not necessarily the "sale price". You'll find homes on RealtyTrac that are valued at over $1 million "listed" at $40,000, simply because that's only one of the mortgages on that home.

The homes on RealtyTrac are NOT being offered for sale, they are homes in various stages of the foreclosure process. Many of these homes will have multiple mortgages, so if the mortgage showing up on RealtyTrac is not the first mortgage, be aware that the first mortgage holder must be satisfied before these lesser lien holders can get paid.

The majority of these homes will not end up being auctioned on the courthouse steps. They will either be sold as a short sale (pre-foreclosure) via a listing on the MLS, or the "sellers" (current owners) will work out a payment plan with their bank and remain in the home. The foreclosure process in California is a lengthy one, lasting a minimum of 120 days before an auction date can be set. Often the auction date is extended while the current owners list their homes for sale as short sales and accept offers from potential buyers.

If you're looking to buy short sales (pre-foreclosures) and bank-owned homes, check with a local Realtor. They'll be able to provide you with the latest information on short sale and bank-owned homes for sale, and help you through the lengthy short-sale process.
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Jodie Franci…, Agent, Studio City, CA
Sun Apr 20, 2008
They are for real, but you have to be able to read the data, and understand that even though they are showing something as a foreclosure, the home may only have a notice of default filed on it, and that is just the first step in foreclosure. If you have a relationship with a realtor, they can pull the same information and get you homes that have an NOD filed as well as homes that have a NOT (Notice of Trustee Sale) filed which is the last step in foreclosure. I would strongly recommend having a realtor help you with this, as these sales are done on the courthouse steps, and often times you may not have the ability to inspect the home etc and once it's been foreclosed upon, the homeowner may destroy the home. I wouldn't advise paying for Reatly Trac, as you can get the information for free. Good Luck!

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Jimmy Hutchi…, , Downey, CA
Tue Apr 15, 2008

Personally I think Realtytrac is for you if you have the plan and money to buy several foreclosed homes. I signed up years ago and actually went to some of the auctions I received info on from realtytrac. It takes a lot of time and energy to purchase the homes from the info you get there. If you don't really know what you're doing, its not as beneficial as it is to an investor with experience purchasing foreclosures.

Good Luck
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Natalia Hals, , Woodbury, MN
Mon Apr 14, 2008
I signed up with Realtytrac for a couple of months and found it let me know about foreclosures in my area. I am a realtor and also a real estate investor. Before I got my license it provided me with info. Unless you are an investor looking to purchase many homes or a buyer looking for a deal with foreclosures it may be worth it. Also, if you are looking in a particular area you can also go to your county office and get a list of homes in foreclosure if you do not want to pay a monthly fee...
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