1. Realize that there will be additional costs to purchasing distressed properties such as foreclosures, and online government auction sites may afford buyers the convenience of bidding on properties through the internet, but it does not remove the critical research that MUST be done prior to placing a bid.
2. Seek the guidance of an experienced and qualified Realtor who has developed a network of experts (title companies and attorneys, inspection companies, and appraisers). Property inspections and comprehensive lien and open permit searches must be conducted prior to entering into any bidding situation.
3. Calculate all additional costs into the total cost of acquiring the property. You may find that the opportunity is not quite what it appears to be.
4. Your Realtor will be able to provide information on recent sales of comparable properties in the area to help you determine whether the foreclosure route is the most prudent for you, and present potential alternatives for your consideration.
Most importantly, remember the old addage, "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is."