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What are foreclosures?
A foreclosure happens when an owner defaults on the mortgage payments for a property.
Property in foreclosure is often referred to as distressed property because the owner is in financial distress and has usually missed several mortgage payments. The owner's financial distress can be caused by a variety of unfortunate circumstances, but it often results in a potential bargain buying opportunity for an interested buyer or investor.

Foreclosure buying opportunities
The foreclosure process doesn't just happen overnight. A typical foreclosure timeline can extend more than three months. The different stages of foreclosure offer different types of opportunities for the buyer.

Buying a property in pre-foreclosure involves approaching the owner in default with an opportunity to escape the situation free of mortgage debt and without a foreclosure on his or her credit history. For the buyer, pre-foreclosures offer potential discounts of 20 to 40 percent below market value, but still give the opportunity to research the title and condition of the property.

Foreclosure Sale:
If the default is not resolved by the end of the pre-foreclosure period, buyers can attend a public auction scheduled by a trustee that is working on behalf of the lender. Buyers are typically required to pay in cash and may not have much notice to research the property beforehand; however, the foreclosure sales often offer some of the best bargains, sometimes as much as 35 to 50 percent below market value.

REO (Real Estate Owned by the Lender):
Sometimes the lender will buy back the property and resell it if it thinks that is the best way to recover any losses on the property. The lender will probably make sure the title is clear for any buyer, but the potential bargain is typically less than buying pre-foreclosures or at foreclosure sales.

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