The Best Free Foreclosure Search Sites

You don't have to be a real estate agent to find a foreclosure to buy

Real estate agents are not the only ones that can suss out a great deal on foreclosed or distressed homes. Using this list of free, searchable online databases, you can find homes that are in foreclosure, in preforeclosure, REO (real estate-owned), seized, and distressed, too. Most of these services are offered for free or with a small subscription that usually includes a free trial period. Here's where to point your browser to find the right property for you.

For Bank REOs

Bank Owned for sale sign

 Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

An REO is a property that has reverted back to the lender after a foreclosure auction has not found a buyer. This does not mean the property is in such a bad state that no one wanted it; it means only that the required opening bid was not met.

The required opening bid for an REO auction is typically the outstanding loan amount.

When the loan-to-value ratio is high, the property might not attract bids, and the asset reverts to the lender. Bank REOs can be great values in the real estate market. Likewise, they can serve up some real stinkers, so be thorough in your research. Here are a few sites to check:

This list includes well-known banks that cover national or regional areas. You can find other bank-owned properties by searching for the bank's name plus the term REO (for example, MyBank REO).

For Government-Owned Properties

Foreclosure and Home for Sale sign
fstop123 / Getty Images

Banks and property lenders are not the only ones who own real estate that has been foreclosed on. The government has a stockpile of REOs, foreclosed homes, and property that it acquires through various means, including loan guarantee programs such as the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and VA (Veterans Affairs). The properties are available through conventional sales and auctions. You'll find many of these at:

  • HomePath—Fannie Mae-owned foreclosures
  • HUD REO—Housing and Urban Development-owned real estate
  • HomeSales—Government-owned foreclosures and seizures
  • FHA REO—FHA-owned properties
  • USDA-RD/FSA—Rural Development and Farm Service Agency REOs
  • IRS properties—Homes, real estate, and other property that has been seized by the IRS

In addition, your county or city government likely has its own foreclosure list. Ideally, they share this on a website; if not, you'll have to make a trip to the county or city clerk.

General Foreclosure, REO, and Distressed Property Listings

Large home in New York

By Daniel Case - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons

A few services compile foreclosures, REOs, and other forms of distressed property into searchable databases. Some provide the listings for free; others use a subscription model that lets you search their service for a period of time.

In most cases, basic information about a property is available even if you don't subscribe. Typically, though, subscribers have access to a good deal of additional detailed information about the status of properties, such as conditions, histories, and concerns.

Some services to check out include:

Real Estate Agents, Brokers, and Property Services

Foreclosure sign

Respres/flickr (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

The age of property agents being secretive about foreclosures, preforeclosures, distressed properties, and REOs is long gone. Nowadays, listing these types of properties is just another way to attract buyers. That's why most real estate services now offer easy access to their databases of distressed properties, such as these:

  • Realtor.com—The officially licensed home for the National Association of Realtors provides free access to its property search engine. Predefined filters pull out foreclosures, properties that have seen price reductions, and affordable homes in communities you search. You'll also find recent news and insights about distressed properties.
  • Trulia—Offers a well-designed search system that includes a predefined filter for finding foreclosures in communities you search. To find foreclosures using Trulia, perform a basic search by town, then use the More search filter and select Foreclosures for the type of sales listing.
  • Zillow—Here, you'll find a foreclosure center with access to advanced search capabilities using a number of criteria, including by cost (or cost estimates), neighborhood, and more. Buying guides, FAQs, and even a guide for those who may be facing foreclosure round out Zillow's offerings.