Q: I am a real estate agent in Georgia and I live in Roswell. I sold my home very quickly and am looking for a home under $300,000 in this area. I have made five offers in the last two weeks. Unfortunately they have been under full price and I have lost all of them.
This market is crazy in this area. I have found a property that I think is or will soon be a foreclosure in Roswell. I love the home and the area and really want to get this home. I have talked to the neighbors, but they know nothing about the home other than their names and where they used to work. What is the best way for me to see it and find out any info about the home?
I have looked on MLS, it was never posted. I have searched the county tax records. I see the homeowners’ names but that’s where it stops. How do I see who is legally in charge of this home? Is there a report that I can find or buy that shows pre-foreclosures?
Thank you for all your advice.
A: Congratulations on selling your home so quickly. We have been hearing that in some neighborhoods across the country – even in Georgia – homebuyers are starting to make offers and sellers, including REO lenders, are accepting them. It is the beginning of the normalization of the marketplace, which is so good to see after these past five years.
Sorry that your bids haven’t been the winning ones. If you have spied a property that you believe will go into foreclosure, but isn’t there yet, you can look up the name of the lender through title records. You can contact the lender directly to see if the home has been put into foreclosure and is available for sale. If not, then you may be able to contact the homeowners and try to do a short sale offer through them.
The problem is if the property is living in a nether-world – neither in foreclosure deed-in-lieu, but the property has perhaps been abandoned. In that case, you probably can’t do anything until wait for the property to go through the foreclosure auction and perhaps pick it up there.
In some states, specific information about properties is easier to get than in others. For example, in some states you can go online and review the title file for a specific property, review the history for the home and even download documents relating to the title for the home. Other states make that process more difficult. However, all states require that home lenders record the mortgage or lien documents. When those documents are recorded, they generally become part of the public record and there is generally a way to view the documents.
You might have to drive to the office where documents are recorded in your county and see if you can have a copy of the document copied and given to you. You may have to pay a small fee, but if you get the right document, you should have the ability to determine the name of the lender on the property, the original amount of the loan given to the homeowner and some other significant loan terms.
You should also know that there are companies out there that have this information available to prospective real estate buyers. They may charge a fee for their services, but these companies compile information about properties that are delinquent and may be going into foreclosure and also properties that are going through foreclosure.
Finally, if the lender filed to foreclose on the property, in states (not Georgia) where the lender must obtain a court judgment to foreclose on the home, you can go to the courthouse and review the court file. You may even be able to review some or all of the court filing through an online search.
But even if you find the information you are looking for, if the lender holding the mortgage is a big box lender, you may have a hard time finding any other information about the property and may only be able to buy the property when it goes for sale at the courthouse steps. If the lender gets title to the property and lists the property on the multiple listing service, then you can try to buy it as you have tried to buy other properties.
As an agent, you know that there is no one right property. If you get a property at the right price and on the right terms, it’s right for you at the moment. If you are persistent and a little wily, you might get your hands on a property that would otherwise go to a savvier investor. But if a home isn’t for sale, then it isn’t for sale – and your tenacity won’t help.