bank owned, or otherwise noted as distressed. You can combine these criteria with other limits to hone your search. There are hundreds of listings in each major market spanning the major property types. Similar to RCA, there are mapping features to help you plot the results. In addition, most listings contain photos, property details and links to contact the listing broker or seller directly. LoopNet's Recent Sales service also helps you figure out the latest in pricing by reviewing recent sale transactions for a low fee to subscribe. CoStar also offers extensive search capabilities and detailed property data, but at a higher subscription cost.

An exciting new source of information is now available that can help you find properties before they are listed as distressed or marketed for sale. First American Corelogic is opening up more detailed access to data they have collected from most U.S. counties. While their existing products have helped many people research the assessed value, owner of record, zoning, platt maps and other data, the mortgage information has not been readily available in their products such as RealQuest, CommercialList, or Metroscan. But now you can view the mortgage data in a new service available by subscription upon request. In reviewing the data, it is clear that the patient analyst can use it to find properties under pressure. Here's an oversimplified description of how.

  1. Review a group of recently sold properties in LoopNet, RCA, CoStar, or other source for a particular property type and market.
  2. Research the properties to determine their assessed value. You can easily do this with First American's tools.
  3. Determine the percentage difference between assessed value and sale price. Call this the assessed to sold adjustment.
  4. Obtain the mortgage maturity data from First American.
  5. Add a column to the data that computes the estimated sale price by applying the assessed to sold adjustment to the assessed value.
  6. Add another column that compares the estimated sale price to the mortgage balance as a percentage of the estimated sale price. Sort by this column.
  7. Now review those records at the top or bottom of the spreadsheet. These will be ones where the estimated sale price is much less than the outstanding mortgage. These are underwater. Flag them.
  8. Look for the flagged properties in LoopNet and RCA's distressed searches. Any flagged properties that you can not find in LoopNet or RCA are your targets.

Note that this process is not a complete list of all properties in any given market. First American is able to find mortgage data on many, but not all properties. Also, timing issues with the data and process of each provider may mean that targeted properties may already be in the process of foreclosure, sale, or refinance. Also, the relationship between assessed value and saleable value is highly tenuous. You have to be very careful in applying the concept to recently constructed properties, commercial land, and special use types. Still, the resulting list is likely to produce targets that have a high degree of financing pressure and have not yet been inundated with offers. One of the most common property types that the process will successfully target is multi-family housing. This is good news since apartment complexes are one of the more desirable asset classes, and the determination of income is fairly simple as well.

For those willing to put in more time and effort to find more opportunities, and weed out targets not likely to entertain offers, you can work to aggregate the data by owner and lender. This is easier for the lenders who tend to operate under a small set of names. Owners however will usually operate through a single purpose entity (SPE) that holds the property and debt along with cash reserves. These SPE's rarely have names that clearly identify their principal owners. Using state attorney general web sites, you can sometimes find the individuals associated with an SPE. Use of a service such as LexisNexis SmartLinx is even more efficient. Some large lenders and opportunity funds use the process above

 

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