Step #1 – Look at the Property
Let’s assume you found a property from one of the foreclosure sites I mentioned in my previous post “How to Find Foreclosures – Where Do I Start?” or in a legal notice from your newspaper. You’re excited with the information you read about the property and you’re ready to start doing additional research. At this point it’s a good idea to go look at the property before you spend any of your time processing the legal work. Until you do that, you don’t even know what the neighborhood looks like, the condition the property is in, and if it’s vacant or not. If you don’t know these simple things about the property, you’ll never know how risky of an investment it could or could not be.
What happens if the legal description or foreclosure notice you read doesn’t list the physical address? You have a couple options like contacting the title company and asking them to lookup the street address, calling the attorney that’s managing the foreclosure, or go down to the courthouse and look it up. Once you get the address, you can continue reading below.
Once you arrive at the property you’re only able to in most cases, view the outside of the home. You really need to see the inside if you are to properly make a decision and this is always extremely difficult because it’s not like an open house. There are several options here and it really depends on your judgment and comfort to be able to have a peek inside. Your options are to walk up the steps and knock on the door and see if anybody is home, if the house looks vacant or abandoned maybe take a quick walk around the property and peek through any windows without disturbing the neighbors, or just walk away and look for a different property. Now I’m not suggesting you trespass nor illegally enter a property and that’s why I said use your judgment. If it’s nighttime and you’ve got a flashlight it’s probably not a good idea to wander around the property unless you want the local authorities coming by to meet you.
Let’s say you were able to see the property and got a nice glimpse of the inside. You felt it’s a good prospect to bid on. Your next step is determining what it will appraise for. I’d recommend you hire an appraiser, realtor, or another investor who has more experience to help you pin down an approximate price on what it will appraise for. There’s a good chance depending on if you were able to get a glimpse of the inside in the previous step, that the appraiser will not be able to look at the inside and only give you a rough appraisal based on what he or she can see on the outside. Of course, there are exceptions, and you might not be too disappointed if you trust just the condition of the outside.
Stay tuned for step #2 – Contacting the Trustee