Investing in Foreclosures

Homes lost to foreclosure can be gold to folks hunting for a bargain in this housing market.

Michael Perl, owner of Equity Res-Q in West Palm Beach, FL.(, has bought and sold more than 400 foreclosures and preforeclosures in the last six years.  He says savvy investors can score a foreclosed home for as little as 70 or 80 percent of its market value.

Here are a few of his suggestions about investing in foreclosures, as printed in Bottom Line Secrets' Bookshelf of Wisdom:

* CHECK FORECLOSURE FILINGS. They're all public record ... and now, most are online.  In Shelby County, you can subscribe to the Memphis Daily News online (  The publisher of county and city public records is the leading tracker of foreclosures in Shelby County.  Its online service updates foreclosures listings daily.

Perl says you can also hire a foreclosure tracking service.  He recommends First American CoreLogic (866-774-3282,  Tracking services can be expensive, though -- as much as $150 a month.

The free site can help you check the sale prices of homes in the same neighborhood so you can compare values.

* BUY BEFORE AUCTION. Get to the homeowner ... or the bank if it holds the note ... BEFORE it goes to auction. They'll be chomping at the bit to get rid of it, so make your best offer before somebody else does.

* CONSIDER A "SHORT SALE." To help the homeowner get out from under the house, see if your lender will take less for the property than is owed on the property. That could mean big savings for you and less hassle.

* LOOK OUT FOR LIENS. Run a title search to make sure there are no tax liens.  When you buy the house, you may end up assuming the liens.

* INSPECT THE HOUSE.  Hire a home inspector to check out the house before doing anything.  It's not uncommon for folks to trash or destroy the interior of a home facing foreclosure.

* CONSULT YOUR MORTGAGE BANKER.  Determine what you can afford and whether there are any repair or maintenance costs, then figure out the loan.