I've got access to the listings of foreclosures from several government and banking sources.
Each entity works differently and its procedures for bidding, financing and obtaining properties varies among the different organizations.
In all cases, you will need to work with a real estate agent or the contact organization cited with the listing. If you contact the government agency directly they will advise you to have your real estate agent contact them or the contact organization cited in the listing.
There are only a few instances when you may make a bid without a real estate agent or listing organization. These all occur at auctions. When the Treasury Department auctions seized property, when HUD holds a property auction or when you bid at an auction “on the courthouse steps” for property that has been acquired by the courts, you will not use a real estate agent. In these instances, you will represent yourself.
If you are a police officer or a state certified teacher, you may purchase a home in a distressed neighborhood for 50% of the market value. The "Good Neighbor" program is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to revitalize neighborhoods.
These listings are primarily single family residences. Occasionally there are listings for land and commercial structures.
Several of the authors of this site have purchased land and commercial structures and made a profit on them.
Just as in residential real estate, location is everything. Also, be aware of zoning, future development and street plans.
Sometimes, after completing the repairs and cosmetic work, the property has become highly valuable. At that time you may wish to sell. You should always check with your accountant to see how the capital gains from the sale will affect your federal taxes.
If you are buying the property as a primary residence, you will be expected to occupy it for one year.
If you are not a vet, the VA has special programs available on their properties for non-veterans. FDIC does not. Freddie Mac does. FNMA does not. All properties at an auction require a letter of credit and cash for the purchase within 24 hours of your bid.
Most properties are sold “as is.” Therefore you must choose carefully and have the property inspected. Also remember that each property should be inspected for termite infestation. Use accredited inspectors before making an offer. The only exception to this is Freddie Mac, which has a program for repairs.
A contingency offer-- an offer based on you selling another property before you will buy this one--is not accepted by the government or bank foreclosure resellers.
With very good credit, some mortgage companies will give you a mortgage and a second mortgage for home improvements. With this arrangement you are putting down very little cash.
If you have a large amount of equity in another house, many times a bank will give you a line of credit against that equity which you can use to purchase another house. Again this is “no money down.”
Also, if you are a Veteran the VA will allow you to buy a house with “no down payment.” You will be responsible only for a small amount of closing fees.
The VA has many listings for non-veterans which require only “$500" down. We point those out on the list for you.
HUD has some listing for nothing down, but not nearly as many as the VA.
Many times individuals who are in a hurry to sell a property due to a death, divorce or other circumstance will sell a house and finance your down payment--making it “no money down” for you.
I bought a property on Deerwood Avenue in the Highlands for no money down!
A builder may “trade” one house for another. In this market there are builders who will consider a trade for your house and the builder is left to deal with the hassle of selling your house, while you are comfortable in your new home!
Finally, banks with foreclosures many times will offer special financing to sell their repossessed properties. For example: Citibank foreclosures