How To See if a House Is In Pre-Foreclosure

Table of Contents

If you’re trying to find a way to get a great deal on an investment, you may be interested in buying a home that’s in pre-foreclosure. This type of home usually sells far below market value, giving you a chance to invest in real estate at a low price. But the catch of any pre-foreclosure home is that it’s not on the market yet. In fact, there’s a small chance that any house you have your eye on could be in pre-foreclosure and you just don’t know it. So, how can you find out? Here’s what you need to know about this process, including how to see if a house is in pre-foreclosure.

What Does Pre-Foreclosure Mean?

If you’re new to the concept of pre-foreclosure, you’ll need to know how it works before you invest. Simply put, when you see a house that’s in pre-foreclosure, that means the homeowner is behind on mortgage payments and the bank is planning to do something about it—such as file a notice of default. But first, the bank will give the homeowner some time to look into options other than foreclosure.

In some cases, the homeowner can take that time to catch up on payments, get a mortgage modification from the bank, or complete a short sale. They might also choose to sell the house before it goes to auction so they can avoid dealing with a foreclosure on their credit report. This is where you come in as the buyer, as you’ll want to buy the house from the homeowner while it’s still in pre-foreclosure. This means you should plan to buy after the bank has told the homeowner they’re in default, but before the home goes to a foreclosure auction.

If you miss this window of opportunity and really want the house, you’ll end up having to buy it as a foreclosure from the bank at auction instead of a pre-foreclosure. This is why it’s a good idea to figure out how to see if a house is in pre-foreclosure as soon as you suspect that it may be.

Why Should You Consider Pre-Foreclosure Properties?

So, why you should even look into pre-foreclosure houses for your next investment? First, much like foreclosed homes, these properties are cheaper than regular houses on the market. Granted, a pre-foreclosure will usually be more expensive than a foreclosure, as you’re buying from the homeowner rather than from the lender at an auction. While the homeowner will be motivated to sell the house fast before it forecloses—and therefore willing to negotiate on price—he or she likely can’t sell it for the same price it would sell for at auction.

That being said, pre-foreclosure homes aren’t even on the market, which means most people don’t know they’re for sale. As a result, there’s much less competition for these homes compared to foreclosure homes at auction. So if you want a higher chance of getting a home at a good price, it’s a good idea to find out how to see if a house is in pre-foreclosure now—rather than waiting for it to go into foreclosure.

Finally, pre-foreclosure homes are usually still occupied by the homeowner during the sale. This means they’re typically in good, livable shape. You can even visit the property to see how it looks before you buy it. Compare this to foreclosures, many of which may have sat empty for months and need a lot of work to be livable again. So if you’re not looking for a property that will take a lot of time to fix up—and you’re hoping to be able to rent it out or sell it soon—a pre-foreclosure is a good idea to look into.

How To See if a House Is in Pre-Foreclosure

As mentioned, you won’t find pre-foreclosures at an auction like you would with a foreclosure. Instead, you’re going to have to do some investigating to find out. So, let’s say there are a few houses you’re interested in investing in, and you want to find out if they’ll be in pre-foreclosure any time soon. You have a few ways to find out the status on each house you’re interested in.

Public Records

The first idea on how to see if a house is in pre-foreclosure is by checking with your city or county courthouse. They typically list public notices of default, so pre-foreclosures would be on the list. If you’re in the market for a pre-foreclosure in your city, you should regularly check this list at your local courthouse.

If you have a specific house in mind and have a feeling it may be in pre-foreclosure soon, keep checking the list of public notices of default in the city the house is in. Once you find it, you’ll see the address, its status, and who owns the property. At that point, you should have the option to contact the homeowners to let them know you’re interested in their house if they want to sell to you to avoid foreclosure.

Word of Mouth

Another option on how to see if a house is in pre-foreclosure is to talk to people you know. For instance, if you’re in any local networking groups for investors, put out the word that you’re thinking of buying a pre-foreclosure. Similarly, if you have a real estate agent helping you look for investment properties, let him or her know you’re interested in buying a pre-foreclosure. And if you have your heart set on a particular house, tell your real estate agent so he or she can contact the homeowner for you in case they’re having trouble making the mortgage payments.

Real Estate Databases

Finally, you can use technology to determine how to see if a house is in pre-foreclosure. Many sites that show real estate listings online let you search for pre-foreclosures, foreclosures, and short sales. You can also rely on ProspectNow for this information, as we make it easy for you to search our site and find properties that you may want to buy. Start your free trial today to see how simple and streamlined our tool is when you’re trying to find residential or commercial properties to invest in!

Get Started

Search Residential Properties

Includes Single Family Residential Properties

Search Commercial Properties

Includes All Property Types