There are many methods of advertising your services so that homeowners facing foreclosure seek you out, rather than the other way around. The most popular way of advertising seems to be those little signs you see everywhere that read, “Facing foreclosure? We buy houses,” or something similar.
I have never used that approach but have my doubts about its effectiveness. To research the subject, I have called many of the listed telephone numbers on the signs. I always end up talking to someone in a call center.
Apparently the signs work only if you sift through large numbers of phone calls from homeowners with unsuitable properties or who call too late for a deal. Somewhere in there is a nugget or two of gold. You, personally, cannot screen that many phone calls, so you will have to hire a service. These services charge by the call, good prospects, bad prospects, and calls from the merely curious. The economics may or may not work for you.
In another one of my books, I recommend speaking to groups about foreclosure options. Many of the people in your audience will learn enough to avoid foreclosure. That is a good thing. If there are too many foreclosures, it will only depress the price of your own purchases. You want the inventory large enough to support your purchases, but not so large that real estate prices take a nose dive. The attendees who cannot or will not solve their own problems will need someone to help them with a preforeclosure purchase. They will come to you.
Even if you cannot help someone through buying his or her home before the foreclosure, you do gain advance knowledge of the upcoming auction. Unlike other auction buyers, you will have already met the borrower, inspected the property, and been able to prepare a realistic budget. You may feel comfortable placing the former owner in the house as a tenant, or you may know better.
The point is that you have far more knowledge than other auction bidders. That gives you a distinct advantage.