The National Association of Realtors offers a comprehensive Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource certification for real estate agents specializing in foreclosures, and Realtor.com offers a way to search for them. The central topics covered in the certification process include how to work with distressed sellers, how to negotiate with foreclosing lenders, how to limit risk and how to protect buyers.
Large databases such as Zillow.com offer listings of local foreclosed houses, and the federal government offers lists of foreclosed properties through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Types of foreclosures include bank foreclosures, HUD foreclosures, Veterans Affairs foreclosures, and Government National Mortgage Association foreclosures. A foreclosure property always involves some form of distress, whether it is financial hardship on the part of the original owner or some kind of extensive damage due to age or natural disaster. As a result, a greater risk is involved than in standard real estate transactions, and a greater value is placed on experienced specialists.
Foreclosure real estate can be an attractive proposition for real estate agents because of the high commissions offered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition, foreclosures can be lucrative for potential buyers because distressed properties are often sold below market values. However, foreclosures can also quickly become a challenge without the proper experience to identify structural and market risks that are unique to foreclosed housing. Common market problems include rough neighborhoods, declining home values, high vacancy rates nearby and crime. Common structural problems include pest infestation, electrical problems, roof problems, general deterioration and water damage.