At least three or four times a week I get a question about a “foreclosure” listing a buyer saw on RealtyTrak. They see an incredible price…that translates as LOW…and want to see the house right away.
Unfortunately the answer is chances are what you are seeing is not a listing at all but a notice of foreclosure scraped from one of the local papers. Foreclosure aggregators are trying to lure you in to buying a subscription to get to “real” foreclosure information.
You can check the local NOVA and DC papers such as the Washington Post, DC Examiner and Washington Times and see the same notices with the full information about the property. In Northern Virginia you will see the heading “Notice of Trustee Sale” which includes the property address, the legal description of the property and the amount owed on the loan. You will also see the date, time and location of the Trustee Sale.
Most of the time the price you see in listed in the Trustee Sale is far above what the current market value of the home might be. Occasionally you will see a home listed at below market value and those are the ones where purchasing at the courthouse steps might be an option.
At the last courthouse step auction I attended in Prince William County in December only one detached home and one townhouse had any bids and in talking to the buyers they were investors with cash looking to buy and flip.
If you are looking to purchase a foreclosure in Northern Virginia I’d recommend that you find an agent ( yes call me) who will help you locate a “real “listing in the MLS. An agent will take the time to walk you through the pros and cons of buying a foreclosure, talk about loan options and find properties that are for sale not scraped from a local newspaper by someone who wants you to pay to find out more.