What is Realty Trac and how difficult is it to purchase a foreclosure?

Asked by Bettythefoodchick, Los Angeles, CA Tue Jun 18, 2013

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Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Fri Jun 21, 2013
Realty Trac is a private company that--among other things--posts advertisements that look like listings on Trulia. They sell a subscription service to provide you information about foreclosures. However, judging from their advertised properties, much of their information is old, outdated, and inaccurate.

The important point, though, is that Realty Trac is charging you for poor, inaccurate information when you could get accurate and timely information from any real estate agent for free.

So: Why do people spend the money? Realty Trac has pretty good marketing. And they're not going to tell you that you can get better information elsewhere for free. And some people just don't like dealing with real estate agents. (Sometimes for good reasons!) They don't want someone pushing them, or trying to sell them, or otherwise being overly persistent. So they'd rather spend the money with Realty Trac than get better information at no charge.

To answer your other question--how difficult is it to purchase a foreclosure--that depends. It depends on where it's located, what the price is, who the bank is, and other factors. It can range from easy to difficult.

I'd personally suggest you consider all properties--foreclosures, conventional sales and even--perhaps--short sales. Don't limit yourself to one type of current ownership or situation. You can find good deals--and poor deals--with each type. Instead, focus on what you want in a property--location, size, condition, etc.

Hope that helps.
1 vote
Robert Chome…, , San Diego, CA
Mon Jun 24, 2013
The only foreclosures you will want to buy will be all listed n the MLS as REO's. The MLS is where the banks list all their foreclosures that they take back. There is no other place to look but the MLS. A local buyers agent can help you find these.

The only other place to buy foreclosures is all cash trustees auctions and those are for the super experienced pro investors and are all cash and highly risky.
0 votes
Steven Ornel…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Mon Jun 24, 2013
Hi Bettythefoodchick,

Got RealtyTrac? I hope not….

Yes, they have foreclosure listings; however, there is a process of getting to the status of an actual foreclosure for sale. See:

RealtyTrac looks to charge you a fee to obtain foreclosure information - this same property status information can be provided to you for FREE by most any Realtor®.

Also, as evidenced by RealtyTrac, be aware there are different levels of property information accuracy on the web. See:

“MLS Data Accuracy – Where to search if you’re “without Realtor®”
if you only want accurate information. http://tinyurl.com/ctr4d44

If you are serious about buying a property find a Realtor® and ask that a custom automated MLS search agent be set-up to make sure you are seeing property actually for sale.

Be sure to also obtain a "True Pre-Approval"?

Basically, there are four types of "foreclosure" property. Here's a quick relative risk/difficulty scale for distressed property (1 being the most risky):

1) Trustee Sale-
You personally go to the County court house and bid on a home you probably have never seen the inside of, nor will have the opportunity to fully investigate. Seasoned investors need only apply. Cash/Cashiers check only, no financing.

2) Auction Company Sale-
A little better, at least you have a seat in a packed room where the auctioneer’s primary job is to get the highest offer from a much larger group than #1 above has. You are buying “AS-IS”. Do you have the ability to gauge cost of repairs you might see? This option is best for those who can walk a home and calculate refurbishment costs on the fly IF an investigative period has been allowed. Perhaps, you might even attend one to see “how the sausage is made” and how comfortable you would be if you went this route.

3) REO-
When a property does not sell via #1 or #2 above you eventually see it come on market via a Realtor® MLS. You will still needs the skills to evaluate property condition and the good news is your Realtor® will be helping you to do so along with professional property inspectors you hire. The downside of an REO is the Bank typically only sells "AS IS" (meaning, the Bank will not typically make repairs even if you identify an issue) and the Seller's property disclosures are limited to what is statutorily required by law.

4) Short Sale-
While there is nothing chronologically short about this option (plan on 60-90+ days before a Lender approval) it nonetheless is the closest relative to the non-distressed sale. The only real risk with these transactions is the underwhelming boredom and the overwhelming mystery of why it takes so long to obtain an Approval(s).

Many Buyers make the mistake of only focusing on distressed property due to a belief they are cheaper and less difficult to buy than non-distressed property - this simply is not the case.

Good luck with your search! Please work with a professional Realtor®, which you can find at http://www.realtor.org/rofindrealtor.nsf/pages/FS_FREALTOR?O…

0 votes
Ron Thomas, Agent, Fresno, CA
Wed Jun 19, 2013
It seems as though Buyers insist on spending money for this, where they don't have to:
Your Realtor does a better job for free.
0 votes
, ,
Wed Jun 19, 2013
Actually we have loan programs that you can use to buy foreclosures. Most foreclosures are on the MLS, so most realtors have access to t hem.

Give me a call if you would like the names of reators in y our area.
0 votes
carlos parra…, Other Pro, Monrovia, CA
Tue Jun 18, 2013
Foreclosures are all cash.
It is easy to buy, however, it is a lot of work to make sure what you are buying is worth it.
Realty trac is a service provider for Real estate information.
0 votes
Isaac Bernem…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Tue Jun 18, 2013
You are better off using http://www.foreclosureradar.com. They are much more comprehensive and have a simpler system to use.

As for how difficult it is, if you intend to go to the trustee sales, you must have cash on hand and be willing to be aggressive when it comes to pricing, especially these days. It is difficult to successfully win a property, but it can be done.

Best of luck!
0 votes
Cindy Davis, Agent, San Diego, CA
Tue Jun 18, 2013
Realty Trac is a company/service that provides information on foreclosures, short sales, and trustee sales. At $50 a month, you will be provided with owner information, title records, etc.

Do I think this is the way to go? No. The wave of foreclosures is largely past...there has been a sharp reduction in foreclosures and short sales as home values have increased substantially.

You can get information about trustee sales from any number of courses...sometimes title reps have that information. Foreclosures that are not purchased at auction go onto the MLS.

Honestly, this is not the season to be scoring any great deals. Foreclosures on the MLS sell for market price and get many, many offers making it more difficult to secure a home.

Focus on getting the home you want, regardless of the type of sale it is.

Good luck.
0 votes
Thank you very much Cindy, great insight!
Flag Tue Jun 18, 2013
kevin luc, Agent, baldwin park, CA
Tue Jun 18, 2013
I have access to a lot of foreclosures, shortsales
0 votes
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