Pre-foreclosures, or lis pendens, are properties at the very beginning stages of the foreclosure process, where the owner/borrower has defaulted on their mortgage payment, but still has time to reverse the process and keep or sell the property. Keeping an eye on lis pendens is a key factor for investors or homebuyers if they want to have the upper hand against the competition when researching investment opportunities and most importantly, if they want to buy a home below its market value.

Pre-foreclosed homes usually sell below their market value due to the distressed homeowner, and depending on the outstanding mortgage amount, the state of the property, and your methods of payment, you can negotiate the price. For example, if you’re going for an all-cash payment, you’ll have an advantage over the competing buyers who may need to wait for financing, giving you the opportunity to strike a deal where you could potentially just pay off the remaining mortgage and own the property clear of any liens.

Buying pre-foreclosures is also a safer investment compared to buying a foreclosed property, as the owners are more willing to give you property information and the buyer will also receive full disclosure about the state of the property, something that you won’t receive if you buy a foreclosure.

In this article, we’ll break down ways you can find pre-foreclosed listings which suit your interest by using PropertyShark’s Pre-Foreclosure tool. You will learn how to use the tool’s various filters, including searching for properties by location, property characteristics, mortgagee and lien amount, and much more. In a previous article, we also covered ways to find foreclosures.

Access our Pre-Foreclosures tool directly from the PropertyShark home page.

Once you open up the page, you’ll have the opportunity to browse available pre-foreclosures, and tweak your search using the menu on the left.

Filter by Location

You can narrow your search to borough or neighborhood level or use the Locations by map link to pop-up a map of NYC where you can select as many boroughs and neighborhoods as you’d like.

Filter by Building Type & Property Characteristics

The building class filter lets you be very specific in your search. Use the drop-down menu at the bottom of the search menu to select from available property choices, or type in the building class code you are interested in.

Property characteristics can also provide means to further filter your search. Type in your minimum and/or maximum limits for any criteria in order to broaden your search, including number of stories, square footage, year built or renovated, and press the search button to filter the results.

Filter by Mortgage Amount

Another approach is to set conditions regarding the mortgage amount and the tax lien amount.

Organize your Search Results

There are several quick options for each listing to help you organize your search and not lose sight of the properties you looked at.

Once you have your results, you can print selected listings: just click the Select for printing check-box in the top right corner of the listing—after your selection, press the print button at the top of the page.

You can also export them as PDF or Excel to use on your computer, following the same procedure. This is the easiest, fastest way to bring your research with you to the auction.

View listings on the map

You can also view a map of the listings if you click on one of the borough names at the bottom of the menu (the borough names are located just above the blue search button).

As you look at the listings that match your criteria and find interesting prospects, be sure to add them to your watch list, to make it easier for you to circle back to them later. Putting a pre-foreclosure on your watch list means you will automatically get email notifications whenever important developments take place: whether the property gets sold, or gets foreclosed, for example.

You can leave notes directly in the pop-up window, and see your notes at the top of the property report any time you visit it.

You can also access comparables without leaving the pre-foreclosures page and running a new search.

What Info Can You Find on a Pre-Foreclosure Listing?

  • the address, a short description of the property and one or more pictures
  • mortgage information (date, amount) and the tax value
  • information about the debtor (owner)

If you need more information about the property, click on the address and open up the full property report.

Before making a business decision, especially if you are not an investor or have little experience with pre-foreclosures, make sure you talk to both a realtor and the owner, and schedule a visit to the property.

The Pre-Foreclosure tool described above is available to subscribers holding an Elite or Platinum membership. All other users will have significantly restricted access to the data and features presented in this article.

If you have any questions about using our tools, our Customer Support professionals are available to assist you with any inquiries, 7 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm ET at 718-715-1758 or [email protected]

Robert Demeter

Robert Demeter

Robert is a copywriter at CommercialCafe and brings 3+ years of experience in commercial real estate. He previously worked as a copywriter at PropertyShark, as a senior associate editor at Commercial Property Executive and Multi-Housing News, and also wrote monthly market reports at Yardi Matrix.