Private and public auctions are two of the best resources for finding cheap foreclosures. Some banks that own foreclosed properties provide listings online to allow direct purchases. Many of the best deals never make it into MLS listings.
Public auctions (also known as sheriff's or trustee's auctions) have notices that appear in the newspaper that generally circulate in the area containing the properties. Websites such as PropertyRadar.com also provide this information, but they often require a paid membership after a free trial phase. At the auction, buyers generally pay cash, knowing they are receiving the house "as is," rather than retaining the ability to ask for repairs or improvements as part of the deal. Researching the title for a desirable property before the auction is wise, as any existing liens from unpaid taxes, HOA dues or outstanding loans transfer with the sale.
Private auction notices frequently appear in newspapers and on websites such as PropertyRadar.com, but the proceedings are managed by auction houses. In some cases, the auction house lets the buyer purchase a home with financing and use an agent to represent himself. In some cases, the auction house also permits inspections of the property.
When the bank owns a house, it is classified as a real estate owned, or REO, property. Many banks provide online listings so potential buyers can research the properties and make an offer.