Creative Ways For Finding (Secret) Foreclosures

You may or may not know, but there only some of the foreclosures are actually being listed by the banks at any given time. The banks only list a portion of them at a time, and the reason is simple economics.

If the banks were to unleash to all the foreclosures back on the market once they become REO it would create a huge amount of supply, further driving down prices of homes - homes which they need to sell for as much as possible to recover their losses on the mortgage.

Also, some banks - even though they have gone through the foreclosure process on the home - they keep the property in the names of the previous owners to avoid the HOA and other fees (the legality of this was taken up in court recently). So even lists compiling county data quite regularly will be missing these by my understanding.

Just because a bank isn't actively listing a house with a agent or on MLS, doesn't mean the bank is not willing or does not want to sell it. It just means they aren't putting it out there to the masses to keep from further softening the prices.

This is why contacting banks directly can provide you with access to more properties others are not aware of. Now, some banks will simply hold those "secret" properties no matter what until they are ready, but some will.

This leads to my point about being creative when it comes to finding foreclosures, since many aren't listed or on foreclosure lists.

One way, be sheer accident, I was able to uncover a foreclosure in my area which was a ghost to the foreclosure lists, MLS and other real estate resources was using Bing Maps (formally Live Earth - by MSN). Now, you could use Google Maps/Earth, or Yahoo Maps... any map site so long as it has satellite (bird eye) images. I prefer Bing because they have better images that zoom closer/clearer, and you can also rotate the perspective on them.

So how did a aerial photo allow me to identify a string of foreclosures (with a couple undocumented ones = no competition)? When researching a possible deal I was scanning the neighborhood. To my surprise, I saw a drained pool, and then another, and another - all just a couple houses apart.

In my part of the world, the only time a pool is drained is if it needs repaired or it is a vacant house. The odds of 7 houses out of a cluster of about 100 having pool repairs done, or for some odd reason just opting to have a dangerous hole taking up most of their backyard is quite low.

A couple showed up on foreclosure lists, but the rest didn't. I could further verify the houses were likely vacant because the lawns were dying.

The next step? Look up the property in the county records and see who owns that property now and try to get in touch with someone who can authorize a deal on the property.

This doesn't mean they will bite at a low offer from someone who found one of their "secret" foreclosures... but this does illustrate there a lot more foreclosures than meet the eye, and getting creative in your methods can give you opportunities that give you an edge over anyone else.

In the end, your edge is what makes you money - whether it is assignment, flipping, rentals/cashflow... it doesn't matter. So always keep looking for ways to increase your edge through creative techniques.

No walls

dgadmin,Your post about property that is not listed reminds me of the greatest gift in the world...If you are not doing it for yourself,Then do not do it for anybody else!
Go figure...

Thanks for the great REO tip!

Joe Jurek's picture


Thanks for the great REO tip. This article is so informative and it makes me want to contact a few more small local banks on Monday. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us. Every day I continue to learn more and more on the DG website. Believe and Achieve! Smiling - Joe

Inside Tips

MyDestiny's picture

Thanks so much. This is such an advantage! Continued success...........Lubertha

Thank YOU! hidden foreclosures

otclude's picture

Now I not only will know about more foreclosures that are out there "hiding" but I also have the "insider info" that banks are keeping REO's in previous owners name(s) to avoid the HOA and other fees, that makes me sound more professional when speaking with potential sellers. This will potentially make the banks look bad and make me look good when I am negotiating a preforeclosure. This doesn't mean I'm trying to trick anyone I am simply telling the truth. Knowing this you don't know what other tricks the banks have up their sleeves for the future.

Secret Foreclosures

Yet another "secret" out of the bag to help us beginners! Thanks!

New Forclosers

Thanks for the info. I'm a newbie and haven't taken the plung yet into actually getting my feet yet, but I was at my local county court house looking into foreclosure properties the other day and found out that thay have live auctions every week. After talking to the lady at the counter(that advised me of the auctions, and was very friendly)this information just arms me with another way to find properties. And after listening to Deans call today about finding buyers first, I also found my local REI investing clubs and I am looking forward to attending some of their meetings. I'm writing this not just inspire myself, because I know that I will be diving into my first deal soon, but to inspire everyone out there to keep comming to the web site to keep pushing, and as Dean says don't give up now. I am so confident that I will be one of Dean's sucess stories that when I am I will be looking forward to talking to some of you live very soon.

Hidden Foreclosures

Thanks for the info on hidden foreclosures. I live in an area that has alot of pools too and I had never thought about looking at an aerial shot
to spot foreclosures.

Another great way to find those killer deals!

Thanks agian,


Elena M's picture

Thanks for the info, I've never used Bing, I'm going to give that a try. Thanks again for sharing that!

Thank you for your post

aerialist's picture

In everything, there are creative ways to do things and new ways to look at situations. Thank you for your valuable post and giving us another way to think about finding properties. If we keep our eyes and minds open to different possibilities I bet we can all find great properties.

Thank You!

thebossspringsteenfan's picture

This is greatt info, just shows us how we can come out a winner. Banks will be very willing to work with you, all you have to do is go and contact them, they won't come knocking on your door asking you to buy a home. We have the advantages here!


Thank you for more diteals

kristinka's picture

Thank you for more diteals on REOs
but, I am having problem with the landers
that they want to cooperate with me.
Is there any ways to help me out give me
more tips on communication.

Thank you!

Hidden Foreclosures

djdebrill's picture

Thanks for the great advice! I'm so addicted to this site! The information is priceless to us "Newbies"!!!


Awesome! Thanks! We don't have many pools in this part of the country but there is surely some other factor that will show up as evidence for me. I will check it out - Bing!

lata fellow DG's


dgadmin's picture

If you are having problems with lenders, instead of focusing on buying, try to do an assignment or two.

Hard money lenders are an option also. But if you can make $10k on a couple deals you should have enough cash to work with any lender to buy.

The old mentality was to buy as much house as you could, since the house appreciates at 6%, the more house the more money you make.

Those days are gone. People are coming back to reality. You would be better served grabbing a 10 $30,000 properties than one $300,000 property.

So start with assignment strategies, then move to buy and flip or rent/cashflow techniques.

The reason for this twofold.
1) You aren't risking your capital in assignment, so if you miscalculated due to lack of hands on experience, you don't lose. This will help make sure your deals when you buy are sound.
2) After assignment you will have capital to do work with even the tightest lenders.

Hidden foreclosures!

Thanks for this article.
I am a newbie. I found a perfect house around in our area,that seems to be vacant.
So I did my research and found out that I was right.
It has been vacant for 3years,I went to our city clerk office and found the owner names,then I searched for her number online.
She said it had been foreclosed since 2007.
I was almost to give up,because it's confusing me,why the name of the property is still in her name.
Now I know. But my problem now,is she didn't answering my call anymore.
I just want to know which bank own the property.
This is my first project.
I hope it will pursue!


Thank you for another creative weapon for our arsenal! Excellent idea.

Thats thinking outside the box!!


Thanks for the info.

I thank all of you for the information that you all are providing me. I'm a newbie also, I have just recently ordered Profit From Real Estate Right Now. I'm currently reading Be A Real Estate Millionaire, which was given to me. I'm looking forward to getting started.

Thanks for this information

Stacey Jurek's picture

It is great to learn new things everyday. Makes you want to go out and try this.

Creative Ways For Finding (Secret) Foreclosures

This information is much appreciated. Thanks so much!

REO Stealth

aerospaceman's picture

That is just amazing that banks are holding properties in an attempt to save their local economies. I never gave this one thought and because of that reason alone we now have an edge.


even as new as i am your secret foreclosure finder is cutting ed

thanks for that cutting edge info.It's something that im goig to try right away with

7 tips for buying foreclosures found on

NEW YORK ( -- Foreclosures are dominating the housing market. Right now, there are 1.5 million such homes for sale, and more are expected to be available soon. That provides both opportunities and pitfalls for bargain hunters.

Just because prices are low doesn't mean you should make snap decisions or buy something that isn't right. Here are 7 tips for making sure you don't get taken for a ride.

1. Don't get caught up in a feeding frenzy

"Everybody and their grandmas are trying to buy foreclosures," said Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, an online, discount broker. But that doesn't mean you should lose your head.

Banks put repossessed homes back on the market at cut-rate prices because quick sales help avoid the expense of upkeep, such as property taxes, insurance, heat and electricity.

Those lowball prices represent golden opportunities, but they also attract dozens of buyers who may bid until homes are no longer bargains.

Don't get caught up in a bidding war. Instead, carefully calculate what you want to spend and do not exceed that price.

2. Contact lenders directly

Smart buyers establish relations with asset managers at banks. This may reward them with inside information or first crack at new foreclosures hitting the market.

In the case of a short sale, for example, it can give the inside edge. If a buyer is pursuing a short sale -- buying a home for less than what the current owner owes on the mortgage -- she should talk directly to the property's asset manager. That way, if the short sale falls through and the bank repossesses the house, the asset manager knows she is still interested. It could lead to a quick sale without other bidders.

3. Get pre-approved from the lender you want to buy from

If you're trying to buy a property from, say Bank of America, it can help to get a pre-approved mortgage from Bank of America. Doing so may cause lenders to look more favorably on your bid if it's similar to others.

Plus, you're not locked in if other lenders offer you better terms. You can always change your mind and get your mortgage from another source.

4. Consider fix-ups

Most REOs, the industry term for bank owned properties, are sold as is. "The conventional wisdom is that banks will do nothing to the houses before the sale," said Kelman.

That can be problematic today because so many foreclosed homes are in less-than-mint conditions. Often, the former owners were struggling to pay their bills and may have neglected routine maintenance. Or, they may have trashed the properties before leaving

In 25% of cases, homebuyers persuade lenders to fix some of the problems before the sale closes. Most of the time, banks would rather sell the house to the next available bidder -- one who doesn't ask the bank to pay for repairs.

So be willing to consider a home that needs some work -- but budget accordingly.

5. Hire a real estate attorney

Once banks agree to sales, they often want to move fast and load contracts up with legal mumbo jumbo. As a result, buyers often do not have the time or expertise to figure all the angles.

The solution is to hire a real estate attorney -- even in states where home sales are usually completed without one. Considering you're making a six-figure investment, the legal fees are cheap insurance against the risks.

6. Wait to make an offer

Homebuyers may be well served to wait before making an offer. Let the house sit on the market for a few days, giving others a chance to set the bidding tone. Then jump in.

"Talk to the agent selling the property," said Kelman. "The agent may tip his hand. Call up and ask, 'Should I make an offer? What should I come in at?'"

The agent may tell you he has offers at, say $300,000 and you should bid a bit higher, giving you an advantage over earlier bidders.

7. Tour properties with contractors

With so many REOs in seriously deficient shape, it's essential to go over every inch with someone who can spot problems and tell you how much it will cost to remedy them.

A foundation crack can be a minor problem or a deal breaker, and most ordinary homebuyers have no way of telling the difference. Like an attorney, a contractor can be very worthwhile insurance.

I have looked at

I have looked at foreclosures and the agent has told me there is a contract on that house and I cannot bid.How do you just jump in and and bid.