Bank-owned properties, or real estate owned (REO) properties, are homes that have been repossessed by banks due to the previous owner’s failure to meet mortgage obligations. These properties often represent a significant investment opportunity, as they are typically sold below market value to recover the unpaid loan balance. This guide will explore effective strategies to locate bank-owned properties for sale, providing potential buyers with the tools needed to navigate this sector of the real estate market.

Understanding Bank-Owned Properties

When a property goes into foreclosure and fails to sell at auction, it becomes bank-owned. Since maintaining real estate is costly for banks, they are generally motivated to sell these properties quickly, often making them available at attractive prices. However, finding these deals requires specific strategies, as they are not always widely advertised.

1. Utilize Online Resources

Several online platforms specialize in listing REO properties. Websites like RealtyTrac, Zillow, and provide searchable databases of foreclosed homes, including those owned by banks. These sites allow users to filter searches by location, price, and property type, making it easier to find properties that meet specific investment criteria.

2. Directly Contacting Banks

Most large banks have REO departments dedicated to managing and selling repossessed properties. Accessing these properties can be as simple as visiting a bank’s website and navigating to their real estate or REO section. Here, banks often list their properties along with contact information for the agents handling the sales. Contacting these departments directly can provide early notifications of new listings before they are advertised to the general public.

3. Real Estate Agents and Brokers

Working with a real estate agent who has experience in the REO market can be invaluable. These professionals have established networks and insider knowledge that can help identify properties before they hit the broader market. Additionally, agents can assist with negotiations and paperwork, which can be more complex in REO transactions.

4. Government-Owned Properties

Apart from banks, government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) also end up owning properties due to foreclosures on federally-backed loans. These properties are listed on official government websites, such as, and are often sold at competitive prices.

5. Local County Office

Visiting your local county’s office can provide another avenue to find bank-owned properties. Foreclosure notices and bank-owned properties must be recorded at the local county office as public records. By regularly checking these records or the county’s website, you can find potential REO properties.

6. Legal Notices and Real Estate Auctions

Legal newspapers and websites often carry notices of foreclosure sales and auctions. Attending these auctions can offer opportunities to purchase REO properties directly, although it’s crucial to be prepared to act quickly and potentially pay in cash.

7. Online Real Estate Auctions

Websites like host online real estate auctions, including bank-owned properties. These platforms allow you to bid on properties from anywhere, although they often require a deposit and registration in advance.

8. Networking

Building relationships with other real estate investors, attorneys, and local real estate professionals can lead to tips on available REO properties. Networking groups and real estate clubs often discuss upcoming sales and can be a resource for referrals and advice.


Finding bank-owned properties requires diligence, research, and sometimes a bit of creativity. By leveraging multiple resources—from online platforms and government listings to local contacts and direct bank inquiries—buyers can uncover numerous opportunities in the REO market. With the right approach and thorough preparation, investing in bank-owned properties can be a lucrative venture.