What does the dollar amount listed on RealtyTrac mean?

What does the dollar amount listed on RealtyTrac mean? Is this the asking price of the property? What other data does RealtyTrac provide to help determine the purchase price or value of a property?

The amount listed on RealtyTrac is usually based on the total amount of the loan in default. Called the Balance or Opening Bid on RealtyTrac, the loan amount is what the foreclosing lender needs to break even. If our data sources don't provide that amount, then we may use another amount such as the estimated value, last sales price or default amount (the amount the borrower is behind on his or her monthly payments). 

This is not the asking price for the property; it's a starting place for you to begin your negotiations with the seller. The goal is to get a good bargain, but you shouldn't necessarily expect to buy the property for just the loan amount.  

The loan amount gives a good estimate of what is needed to satisfy the lender. If you subtract this amount -- and any other liens against the property -- from the estimated market value of the property, you will have an idea of the potential bargain that could be realized with the property. This will also give you a solid foundation for making an offer to the seller. If the loan amount is more than the estimated value of the property, then you probably want to arrange a short sale (where the foreclosing lender agrees to let the homeowner in default sell the property for less than is owed) or simply submit a lower offer directly to the lender if the property is already bank owned (REO). 

To evaluate the property further, you can view the Comparable Sales and Foreclosure History tiles from the Property Details or My RealtyTrac pages for properties. The comparable sales report provides a list of up to 15 properties that have sold recently in the neighborhood and an analysis of property values in the neighborhood. The liens and loans report provides a list of loans secured by the property and any tax liens placed on the property. 

If you work with a real estate agent -- recommended for first-time foreclosure buyers -- the agent can provide professional advice on the value of the property and how much you should offer. Contact an Agent to find a local real estate agent in the RealtyTrac Agent Network who can help you buy a property. 

If you don't see the Balance or Opening Bid on a property, you should check if RealtyTrac has other records for that property. Subscribers can view the Foreclosure History tile on any pre-foreclosure, auction or bank-owned Property Details page to view a list of data records RealtyTrac has for that property. Other data records may have more details about the property that were not on the original Property Details page. Subscribers can use this tool to check if previous foreclosure notices have been filed and if more than one lender is foreclosing on the property. 

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