The Best Free Foreclosure Search Sites

You don't have to be a realtor to find a foreclosure to buy

Real estate agents are not the only ones that can spy out a great deal on foreclosed or distressed homes. Using this list of free searchable online databases you can find homes in foreclosure, pre-foreclosure, REO (Real Estate Owned), seized, or distressed properties just about as easy as anyone in the real estate business. And for the most part, you can use your web browser and perform your searches from home.

Even better, most of these services are offered for free or with a small subscription that usually includes a free trial period.

Bank REO

Bank Owned for sale sign

 Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

REO is a term used to describe 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 only means that the required opening bid was not met which is usually set at the outstanding loan amount. When the loan-to-value is high the property may not be bid on and the asset reverts to the lender.

Bank REO's can be a good source for finding great value in the real estate market. They have also been known to serve up some real stinkers, so be thorough in your research.

Bank REO Search Tools

This list includes well-known banks that cover national or regional areas. If the bank you wish to search for REO's is not included in this list, you can find that banks owned properties by searching in the bank's name plus the term REO. 

Government Owned

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 properties, foreclosed homes, and property that it acquired through various means, including loan guarantee programs such as FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and VA (Veterans Affairs). The properties are available by conventional sale as well as by auction.

  • HomePath - Fannie Mae owned foreclosures.
  • HUD REO - Housing and Urban Development owned real estate
  • HomeSales - Government own foreclosures and seizures
  • FHA REO - Federal Housing Administration owned properties.
  • USDA-RD/FSA - Rural Development and Farm Service Agency REOs
  • IRS properties - properties including homes and real estate that has been seized by the IRS.

Although our list above is for searching federal agencies for foreclosures, don't forget that your local county or city government likely has its own foreclosure list. If you're lucky they have placed the foreclosed and seized properties on an easy to use website. But just as likely you will need 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 track foreclosures, REOs, and other forms of distressed property compiling the list into a database searchable on the Web. Some provide the listings for free while 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 do not subscribe, but for those subscribing there is usually a good deal of detailed information including the state the property is in, has it been vandalized, used as a drug lab, or environmental concerns if present.

Some of our favorite providers of these services 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, pre-foreclosures, distressed properties, or REOs is long gone. Nowadays these types of properties are just another service that can be used to attract buyers. That is why most real estate services now offer easy access to their database of distressed properties.

  • - The officially licensed home for the National Association of Realtors provides free access to its property search engine with predefined filters in place to pull out foreclosures, properties that have seen price reductions, as well as affordable homes in communities you search. You will also find recent news and insights about distressed properties.
  • Trulia - Offers a well-designed search system that includes a pre-defined 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 - Offering a foreclosure center with access to advanced search capabilities that can allow you to find foreclosures using a number of criteria, including by cost (or cost estimates), neighborhood and more. You will also find buying guides, FAQs, even a guide for those who may be facing foreclosure detailing what your options may be.