Banks will foreclose on a property when an owner falls behind on mortgage payments. When this happens, ownership can eventually revert to the bank if it is unable to sell the property at auction. Anyone can buy these properties from the bank. The benefits of purchasing a bank-owned property include a below-market price, no liens, and liberal payment terms. You can find the properties with one of several online resources, and many of these tools are free.
Visit websites for major U.S. banks, such as Chase or Bank of America. These national lenders provide listings of their foreclosed properties in a database that is accessible online. You can search the database for foreclosed properties in any neighborhood nationwide.
Contact a real estate agent for access to the multiple-listing service. The MLS is a comprehensive database of available properties, including those that are bank-owned. The MLS is only available to licensed real estate agents, but an agent can send you new listings daily. You can find an agent through websites for real estate companies, such as Century 21, Remax and Coldwell Banker.
Check for bank-owned property on websites for foreclosure companies, such as RealtyTrac and Foreclosure.com. Some of these companies charge a monthly membership fee for full access to the database.
Find an agent who specializes in real estate owned (REO) properties through a real estate website. Contact the agent and express your interest in bank-owned properties. Try to build a business relationship. If the agent is willing to work with you, she can alert you as soon as new listings arrive, supply information about available properties that may not be publicly available and help you steer clear of potential problems.