good place for foreclosure listing? (Pittsburgh, Dormont: tax lien, for sale, real estate)
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It looks like I'll be moving up after all, so I've now moved on to the "looking at house" stage. I probably won't be up till december, so I'm not getting anything this second, but I'd like to figure out what i like/can afford/etc. Of particular interest are foreclosures, since from all I've heard they should be 1) cheap and 2) plentiful in the Monroeville/Murray area. REOs I believe are the best as you can finance those with the bank as you would a normal home purchase (mortgage).
I've looked for sites listing PA foreclosures but can't find anything that doesn't require registration. So, does anyone know of any particularly good foreclosure sites that are free or worth registering for? And is my train of logic correct for the area, or am I totally missing something? I know in NE Ohio anything that looks not lived in for 2 days is getting broken into and gutted for scrap. Does PA share this issue? Based on that should I do anything special when looking at REOs?
Locally, I like priorityrealty.net and grasha.com. I've also registered with a national sight -- reotrans.com. This is a website that I believe I got from Countrywide when I called about a home that they had foreclosed on. I believe you simply have to provide an email address and create a password. Reotrans.com generally has a more complete listing of local properties than the other two -- which only appear to have the listings of the respective agencies.
Another website you'll probably want to keep in mind is the allegheny property assessment website -- you can (more or less) find out when a property last sold and how much it sold for. Allegheny County Assessment
As to more general advice, I would be interested to hear what the group has to say -- especially if tailored to the Pittsburgh market. My girlfriend and I actually did a "walk by" of a REO property in Mt. Lebo last night. The allegheny property website says that (prior to foreclosure) it last sold for 185k in 2006 and was then foreclosed upon last spring. Now its being offered for $85k. The place was in pretty bad shape cosmetically, and apparently, needs a new kitchen, it also had a shared driveway, but if you are handy, it could be a reasonable deal.
I believe that when the mortgage holder purchased the property at Sheriff's sale, then any tax liens, or any other liens, would have been extinguished.
One possible scenario in the case of the house I mentioned could, and I stress could, be that there was an inflated appraisal in 2006.
My main point, which I should have stated better, was that by comparing the information on the Allegheny county property website (or another sight like realstats.net), with the current asking price, you can get some idea of the relative (possible) bargain of purchasing a REO property.
Finally, another sight you can try for HUD-auction properties is hooksvanholm.com.
And a major caveat -- all this information is coming from a life-long renter!
I just came from a Sheriff's sale in Franklin County, Pa. Liens are not extinguished by a Sheriff's sale. This is why you could lose your shirt at a sheriff's sale if you don't do your homework ahead of time.
That's a good point to stress, Dave. However, an important distinction about my original post was that, if the mortgage holder, not a third party, purchases a home at sheriff's sale -- then, generally, any outstanding liens are extinguished for subsequent purchasers. Here's a snippet on the issue from a 2001 article in the Post Gazette:
"A much safer option, says Madigan, is to approach the mortgage company immediately after the foreclosure sale, before the property is listed with a real-estate agent. Because of liability and tax issues, many institutional lenders are eager to unload foreclosed homes as quickly as possible, and often for 10 percent to 15 percent less than the cost of the debt.
Not only will that allow you to arrange for financing, freeing up your finances for any repairs or remodeling, you'll get a clear title, worry-free. That's worry-free, not free: 'Depending upon the institution and the market value of the property, banks are often willing to make a deal," says Vince Zappa, a Metz Lewis real estate attorney who regularly represents lenders at sheriff's sales. "But no bargain-basement prices. They're not stupid.'"
I was thinking about this a couple of months ago, so I've got some information stockpiled. Here's the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office website:ACSO - Real Estate (http://sheriffalleghenycounty.com/HTML%27s/real_estate.html - broken link). The listings for the sheriff sales are put in the Post Gazette and the Pittsburgh Legal Journal (Pittsburgh Legal Journal - Sheriff Sale). I found that the PLJ ones were easier to look through. I believe that the listings are supposed to be available for no less than 4 weeks/30 days (I don't remember which one) but that rarely happens. They're made available the Monday after that month's sheriff sale (2nd Monday of the month, 3 weeks before next month's sheriff sale). PLJ usually has them available the Friday before that though (first Friday of the month after the first Monday, 4 days after that month's sheriff sale). They also include houses being put up for tax sales in the Sheriff's sale, but they don't like to publicize the fact. They're usually a couple hundred to a less than $10,000.
You must put up 10% of your bid at the time of bidding and you have to pay the rest by Friday. I'd look at the surrounding counties too, some of them have different policies. I think Beaver county allows you up to 30 days to pay, but I'd check on that.
Most REOs aren't much of a bargain and some of them will only accept your offer through an agent. Some mortgage companies have listings on their websites of their properties (these are the ones more likely to be a little bit cheaper but probably in worse condition). A lot of them will fix up the house and then have a local agency like Northwood or Howard Hanna sell it like any other property, you may not even be told that it was a foreclosure. I recommend that you keep a list of all the properties that went to sale (even the ones you're not interested in) in all the counties you're considering just to see where the pop up at later and if they're price at market value. Keep in mind that the REO's will mostly likely not sell for the difference between the mortgage and what was paid. If they can get more money by selling it a market value or close to it, they will.
If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me.
I don't know what others' experience has been, but when I looked into buying a mortage foreclosure at Sheriff's sale in Dormont a few years ago, the mortgage holder's attorney indicated that most banks/finance companies are not prepared to allow someone to come into the sheriff's sale (without any previous contact) and make a winning bid for a property. In fact, I believe the attorney indicated that the mortgage holder could basically ask for the sale to be postponed in the middle of the bidding if a third party was trying to "outbid" the mortgage holder. Further, it was my experience in attending a few sheriff's sale back in 2006, that it was really only the "free and clear" tax sales where any "active bidding" occurred. But I agree with Jersey that I haven't found an easy way to determine which sales are the "free and clear" tax sales. In the end, I felt that the whole process was a little too complicate and rife with pitfalls for a casual participant like myself. Nevertheless, I've continued to follow foreclosures in my neighborhood and have observed some savvy investors appear to make a good return on buying/rehabilitating/selling in Dormont.
Another issue is that, again, looking for any confirmation, I believe you might actually have to be a "pre-approved" buyer before you can bid on a tax sale. I was recently looking at the listings on the city of pittsburgh real estate office's website (Properties for Sale
and, if you read the procedures, at least for these tax sales (are these the only tax sales by the city?) you have to be "pre-approved" before you can walk into the sale and bid. Its a quite complicated process, and (apparently) it can often take months before the property is sold; and further the property would only be subject to court auction if more than one party put a bid in on the property.
Finally, as far as tracking all sheriff's sales, at least for Allegheny County, you should be able to use the county property website to determine if the house that you want to buy is owned by a bank/finance company.
Wow, it sounds like I may be better off just going through a realtor then. Kind of surprising, actually.
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