Thinking About Buying a Foreclosure?

February 16, 2024

Tim Clarke

Learn about the typical pitfalls and risks involved with purchasing foreclosures to avoid issues and maximize your investment.

In the past, many people could not pay their mortgages. This led to millions of homes being foreclosed. Now, people want to buy these cheaper foreclosed homes. But there are risks to buying foreclosed property.

What is Foreclosure?

Foreclosure happens when the homeowner stops making mortgage payments. The bank takes the home and sells it to get their money back.

Foreclosed homes can cost much less than regular homes. But they come with big risks. Do research before buying a foreclosure.

Steps Before Buying a Foreclosure

Here are important steps to take:

  • Title search - Make sure no one else owns the home
  • Check for liens - You must pay any existing liens
  • Check for other mortgages - You don't want surprise mortgages
  • Inspect the home - Foreclosures are sold "as is" and may need repairs

Types of Foreclosures

There are a few ways to buy a foreclosed home:


  • Buy from homeowner before bank takes home
  • Get homeowner's records like inspections
  • Take over mortgage payments


  • Homes auctioned on courthouse steps
  • Must pay cash upfront
  • Can't inspect home first
  • Riskiest option

REO (Bank Owned)

  • Bank couldn't sell at auction
  • Lower risk than auction
  • Can get inspection and mortgage
  • Usually in better shape

Typical Pitfalls for Foreclosed Properties

Here are some typical pitfalls to watch out for with distressed properties:

  • Hidden defects - Without a proper inspection, you may uncover costly repairs needed after purchase like roof issues, foundation cracks, faulty electrical or plumbing.
  • Liens - Outstanding tax liens, HOA fees, mechanic's liens may still be attached to the property that you become responsible for.
  • Other mortgages - Junior mortgages or home equity lines of credit may still need to be paid off.
  • Title issues - Undiscovered heirs, pending litigation, or fraudulent title transfers can complicate ownership.
  • Occupants - Previous owners or squatters may still be occupying the home and require eviction.
  • Redemption period - Some states give homeowners a redemption window to reclaim the home by repaying in full.
  • As-is condition - Properties are sold as-is, so repairs and back taxes are the new owner's responsibility.
  • Unknown history - Without complete records, it's hard to verify maintenance, upgrades, damage, etc.
  • Bad neighborhoods - Some areas with concentrated foreclosures suffer from high crime and declining property values.
  • Financing difficulties - It's harder to obtain financing for distressed properties from lenders.
  • Competitive bidding - Multiple investors bid up higher-value distressed homes quickly.

Doing thorough due diligence is key to avoid these common pitfalls and maximize your investment in a distressed property.

Partnering with an experienced agent and inspector helps steer clear of nasty surprises.

Other Tips

  • Some states have redemption periods - research rules
  • Always inspect the home yourself

Buying a foreclosure can be risky. But with research, you can find a great deal!

Final Thought About Foreclosures in North Carolina

With over 7 years of experience specializing in foreclosures, I've seen the full spectrum of risks and rewards when purchasing distressed properties.

My investment experience has shown me how critical it is to perform due diligence before buying a foreclosure.

At the Tim M. Clarke Team, our agents have the expertise to guide buyers through all aspects of this complex process.

We help our clients minimize risks by conducting thorough title searches, lien checks, and inspections prior to purchase.

Our team takes pride in leveraging our knowledge to help homebuyers and investors make wise decisions when purchasing foreclosed homes in Raleigh and surrounding areas.

Don't take unnecessary chances with your hard-earned money - contact us today to explore your foreclosure options.

With our proven foreclosure investment experience, we can help you capitalize on this opportunity while avoiding costly pitfalls.

Tim M. Clarke

About the author

17 years as a Realtor in the Research Triangle, Tim seeks to transform the Raleigh-Durham real estate scene through a progressive, people-centered approach prioritizing trust & transparency.

Contact Us

Looking to build / buy / sell in the Triangle? Drop us a line.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.