Not too long ago, a friend of mine met me for lunch at a park in Ann Arbor. I brought a sandwich from Zingermans, and he picked up his from a gas station. He spent the first minute crowing about how much money he saved, and how a penny saved was a penny earned. But, then we started eating. Zingerman’s isn’t exactly cheap, but did I enjoy my lunch? I did. Did he? If you saw him grimace through every bite, you would know.
That obvious lesson carried over to talking about finding real estate listings. He is the type of person who thought that paying for anything was like being robbed. I understood that impulse—after all, we’re in a cash business. But, the truth is, the cheap and easy way isn’t always the best way.
There are a lot of ways to find foreclosed homes in Michigan for sale with free listings. Over the course of my career, I’ve used most, if not all, of them. I’ve discovered their pros and cons, and had some success with them—and some problems.
Like with anything, there are bad ways to find listings, good ways, and great ways. The free listings can generally be lumped somewhere between bad and good. What you need to know the most is that when it comes to finding foreclosed homes, you get what you pay for.
Pros and Cons of Finding Foreclosed Homes in Michigan With Free Listings
So, there are ways to find Michigan foreclosed home listings for free. And, none of them are bad, per se. The real question is how much time you spend, how good the listings are, and how often they lead toward a closed deal. Those are the metrics that matter. Here are a few of the ones that you can use.
One not-so-hidden secret of this industry is the hudforeclosured.com website. It’s a pretty big listing site, broken apart by zip codes.
Pros. This is a pretty comprehensive site that has single-family houses as well as a lot of townhomes and condos, which isn’t always the case with other sites. If you are looking for a rental property, it makes it pretty easy to find. The search feature is also pretty valuable—you can enter a zip code and set your parameters. That way you can go as broad or as narrow as you want.
Pitfalls. This isn’t actually a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website; it’s just a listing site. You have to be a member to get in-depth details of the property and a map. That’s not a huge issue, but it is one more hurdle to jump. You’ll also find that it doesn’t have every HUD listing, nor does it connect you directly with the seller.
In short, it might be a good place to start, but you’ll have to do a lot of work afterward.
When I started in real estate investing, the word Zillow didn’t even exist. Now it is ubiquitous, and for good reason. It can be helpful for amateurs and professionals alike.
Pros. Pictures, images, even foreclosure information: Zillow is a pretty comprehensive source of free information. There is even information on how much the taxes are on the property. When it comes to getting details quick and easy, it is hard to beat Zillow.
Pitfalls. Although it’s getting better recently, Zillow’s data is notoriously poor. You are likely to find listings for foreclosure properties that have been redeemed by the homeowner or never were in foreclosure to begin with. To find out, you’re going to have to dig deeper.
Zillow is a good resource to have on hand, but it isn’t a magic bullet. Relying on it to do all your work leaves you a few steps behind.
Commercial Foreclosure Listings
There are a lot of sites that list foreclosures, including ones like foreclosurelistings.com, that offer you free searches.
Pros. Lots of houses. You can search by zip, city, or county. That’s really important in a huge state like Michigan. No offense to my Yooper brethren, but I’m not always looking to work in Houghton, nor are my colleagues up there excited to drive to Livonia every day. This site helps you find dozens and dozens of listings wherever you need.
Pitfalls. You get an address, but you have to subscribe to get more information. And, there are so many listings, you’ll be spending time going through all of them hoping to find one that is right for you.
The bottom line is that these websites are decent resources, but they won’t do the legwork for you. All they want is more members; members buying an investment property is strictly incidental. You have to do all the work.
These free listings for foreclosed homes for sale in Michigan require that you are taking a gamble when you go after a deal. You don’t always have the information you need and you might pay a lot more due to competition. That’s why I like to get my leads before there is a foreclosure.
A Better Way To Find Homes in Michigan
As I said at the beginning, I know I paid a little bit more for my lunch than my friend. But if you want something done right, sometimes you have to make an effort. It pays off, whether it is a great lunch or a far more successful career in real estate.
I speak from experience. My career turned around when I became an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee. You’ve seen the “We Buy Ugly Houses®” commercials. Everyone has—it’s a nationally-known and trusted brand. When distressed homeowners need to sell their homes, they contact a HomeVestors® franchisee like me. This means I get to go to the home, inspect it, and talk to the person selling it—before they are foreclosed upon.
I don’t have to click a thousand times to find the one house that I want. Or chase down information on “free” foreclosure listings around Michigan that are not actually for sale. For me, getting qualified leads is easy. And, while it isn’t free, it has more than paid off.
If you value your time and money, and want to get qualified leads to make the right real estate investments here in Michigan, request information about becoming a franchisee. It’s the Zingerman’s sandwich of professional real estate investing.
Each franchise office is independently owned and operated.