Some foreclosed homes are occupied. Is there a way to find out the condition of the house without disturbing the occupants?
“Foreclosure” describes a lengthy process with several stages, so I’m not sure what you mean by “foreclosed homes”.The process usually starts with a “Notice of Foreclosure” which the lender sends when someone is 60 or maybe 90 days late on their payments. It basically says if you don’t get payments current by X date, either (depending on state laws) 1) the lender will sell the house on the courthouse steps (foreclose) on X date, OR 2) that sale date will be set if you don’t get current before then. I haven’t seen the statistics lately, but a fair number will actually get resolved before the date and never be foreclosed on. At that point the home is not actually for sale.Another part of the process can be a “short sale” - so named because the owner has decided they cannot pay the mortgage and is willing to sell the home but the amount the home will sell for will be “short” of the amount needed to pay the total mortgage amount. These are usually listed for sale with a Realtor and follow normal viewing policies though they may be restrictive (“showing only Saturdays 2–4:00 PM). Here a seller will accept almost any offer because they’re not going to walk away with a nickel but the lender has the right to accept or reject the offer. Haven’t done one of these in years either, but when they were more popular my personal experience to get a response from the lender ranged from six weeks to six months - and of course the answer can be “no”.The next part of the process is the sale on the courthouse steps (literally, outside the door of the county courthouse). It’s extremely unlikely that anyone will have been able to view the inside of any of the houses being sold. And they are all-cash sales, so you need deep pockets to play in this game. You also need deep pockets because you are gambling on rehab costs. The lender sets a minimum price and the pro’s all have a maximum price. Most often the lender’s minimum is the amount due on the mortgage, so if no one bids higher, the lender buys it.After that, though the home has technically been foreclosed on, it sells pretty much like any other house (listed on the MLS) and you will be able to see the insides (with your rehab contractor if you want). It may be sold “as-is” right after the foreclosure sale or a rehabber may do the work necessary to get it up close to marketable, if not all pretty, before listing it.I remember one I showed in which the seller had removed all the kitchen appliances (including the dishwasher), the water heater, the furnace, and one toilet. What, if anything, had happened where it couldn’t be seen (cement down the drain, wiring missing, etc) was also unknown.Finally, do not expect to buy a home at a steep discount from a fair market price just because it’s a foreclosure. The price may be lower than comparable “move-in ready” homes because it needs a lot of work, but the market takes that all into consideration.It’s extremely unlikely that you’re going to save any actual money shopping only for foreclosures. If you buy at say, $30,000 under a comparable move=in ready home, you will almost certainly spend $30,000 to get it to move-in condition. In fact you’re more likely to spend more than that because almost every rehab project discovers something in the process of doing the work that wasn’t seen before and wasn’t included in the $30,000 (or whatever) estimate.Unless you’re really wanting a project instead of a home, I’d stick to MLS listed properties.