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Buying a foreclosed home can be a great way to purchase your first home or start investing in real estate on a limited budget and expense. Contrary to popular belief, you are not required to pay for foreclosure listings. In reality, most foreclosure directories offer public information that you can get yourself with a little time, effort, and knowledge. The secret to finding properties that are totally free is locating government listings and directories online. While it may take a bit of time to figure out exactly where these listings are, by employing the strategies and methods outlined below, you can be on your way to owning heavily discounted real estate.

Start your real estate search at your local county recorder’s office. Some cities and states offer foreclosure listings free of charge, and several of them offer the listings online as well as at their physical locations. However, it will be difficult to find images on those websites.

Stay on top of bank and government property listings through their online divisions. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website maintains web links to listings of foreclosed homes by state. Additional listings can be found through the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VHA).

Doing the searches for free will allow you to bypass websites that charge monthly to access exclusive listings of foreclosed properties in your area. For business listings, they are not always listed on these directories because they are too common for listing.

It’s a good idea to check your neighborhood newspaper for these listings. In most counties, foreclosure notices can be found in the newspaper along with the corresponding upcoming auctions. While searching for foreclosures online can be much more convenient and efficient, checking the same listings in your local newspaper can save you some time.

You also have the option of contacting your local board of realtors for the names of some agents who specialize in foreclosures. Your bank’s real estate officer should be able to point you in the right direction.

Finally, there are some tips to follow when searching for distressed properties online. Low prices do not always guarantee the best investments. Ask your local real estate agent about growth prospects in a particular neighborhood. You should also ask about crime rates, nearby schools, local attractions, and shopping areas.

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