I am a new residential foreclosure investor, along with my brother and father. We stay away from the property tax auctions for now. We have pulled our money together and go to the county court house the first Tuesday of every month to try to pick up one, or maybe two investment properties up at the auction. We live in Houston, Texas, and Harris County is the actual “region” where the auction is dealing with. We went and watched the first few months, but we have some questions that we can’t seem to get answered. For our Harris County auction, there are at least 15 auctioneers in the early session, and at least 6 in the late session. Each trustee has hundreds of properties to read. No matter how much we filter our list of “good” properties down to, there is no possible way that we could ever get close to actually driving to the properties to put our eyes on them, and give them a good and respectable evaluation. Not to mention do all the necessary title work. In Texas all properties that are going to be up for auction must be filed by the 19th of that month. Once we narrow our properties down to the ones we really hope to get, it never fails that none of them ever get auctioned off. We have found out that properties can be “pulled” after they get on the list due to their debt being settled. We don’t know why the list is never updated from any of the foreclosure databases when a property has been “pulled” and will not be auctioned off that month after the 19th. The first and only property that came up, and we won the bid for, was pulled after the trustee made a final call to check on it’s status. Our first question is where we can find a real time, up to date, listing of properties that will no longer be auctioned that month or which have been “pulled” for some reason. It seems there should be databases out there that do this, and would help us greatly to narrow down the number of houses we actually have to research on since they will not even be auctioned off. Or is it legal, and/or appropriate to approach the banks themselves with numerous cases to inquire about, and who would we contact to expedite that process. Or what multiple methods and people to talk to that would solve our problem. We also use Google maps to do some preliminary visual evaluation of properties, but we have come to find out that the images are outdated, addresses are wrong, and just not high enough quality to be a dependable research tool. Is there any other visual mapping service or software that is updated, correct and high resolution enough for us to risk our hard earned money? Any thoughts and suggestions are greatly appreciated and many thanks in advance.
I would start with the 2 sources who should actually know up-to-the-last-minute what properties are still being auctioned off and which ones aren’t: The state superior court in which all foreclosures must go to and the Sheriff:
State Superior Court - See if you can call in with the docket/file number about the ones you’re interested in to see if there has been a legal status change.
Sheriff - Check with the sheriff regularly (they may be online) to see if they have an updated list. Here in NJ, local, state and county governments are obliged to released certain information if an OPRA (Open Public Records Act) request is submitted. You may have to submit a similar form to the sheriff weekly.
Legally, the foreclosing parties aren’t allowed to divulge much, if any, info on the case that isn’t public.