Based on scheduled foreclosure auction volume in late 2023, here are some opportunities you might want to consider.

Foreclosure auction volume remained muted in late 2023, but scheduled auction data shows which markets will likely have the most volume of distressed property buying opportunities in early 2024.

Nationwide, scheduled foreclosure auction volume in the third quarter of 2023 was still 43% below the pre-pandemic level in the third quarter of 2019, according to data from, which accounts for nearly half of all properties brought to foreclosure auction nationwide.

After ramping up in 2022 following the end of the pandemic-triggered nationwide foreclosure moratorium on government-backed mortgages, scheduled foreclosure auction volume plateaued at about half of pre-pandemic levels in 2023.

Scheduled foreclosure auction volume provides a good forward-looking indicator of future foreclosure volume in the next six months. That’s because many properties don’t go to auction the first month in which they are scheduled for auction. On average, properties brought to auction on the platform in 2023 were scheduled for auction 1.9 times. The average number of days between the first scheduled auction date and the eventual final auction date was 165 days—about five and a half months.

Distressed Property Pricing

Despite the relatively low volume in 2023, foreclosure auctions still represent a good buying opportunity for many buyers, including local real estate investors and even owner-occupant buyers.

“Buy one of those properties that are in really bad condition … fix it … and sell it at a cheap price,” said Karina Barone, a real estate agent and investor based in Birmingham, Alabama, describing her approach to purchasing distressed properties. “The idea of investing was to make a little money but also give back to the community by providing people with affordable housing they can purchase with financing. Most distressed properties sold at auction do not qualify for a loan because of their condition, and the people buying my renovated properties don’t have enough money to buy in cash at the auction.”

Barone recently listed for sale a renovated home that she purchased on, but she has also helped several clients purchase distressed properties to live in.

“Before I decided to invest, a client of mine saw a house for sale … so I started searching; the house was on I didn’t know anything about auctions back then,” said Barone, recounting the first time she helped a client purchase a distressed property at auction. “It’s more about what you’re doing for others than about the money.”

Distressed property buyers like Barone and her clients purchased properties at bank-owned (REO) auction for 57% of estimated after-repair market value (or 43% below after-repair value) on average in the third quarter of 2023, down from an average of 58% a year ago. Buyers foreclosure-auction-purchased at a similar 59% of estimated after-repair value (or 41% below after-repair value) on average in the third quarter, down from an average of 62% a year ago.

Adding Value with Renovation

The low purchase prices on distressed properties typically come with high renovation costs. By definition, these properties need significant rehab to be brought back into fully repaired condition.

“It was destroyed. The holes in the walls. It was messy,” said Barone of her most recent purchase. After substantial renovation, she was able to return the property to financeable condition so it could be available to a broader pool of owner-occupant buyers. “I was so happy because the appraisal came back $10,000 more than what I was asking for. [The new buyer] is going to start with $10,000 in equity.”

The favorable distressed property pricing represents potential wealth-building opportunities, not only for investors like Barone, but also for the owner-occupant buyers she sells to and for the owner-occupant clients she helps purchase distressed properties directly.

Barone recounted the story of one client who purchased a distressed property to live in seven years ago and still lives there.

“You have to see what she did with that house,” said Barone, noting the client and her husband did most of the work themselves. “When she bought it, it was a $35,000 house. Now it’s worth about $180,000.”

Even in markets like Birmingham, where scheduled foreclosure auction volume is 44% below 2019 levels, buyers willing to take on the extra work and risk involved with buying a distressed property can often find inventory to buy.

“The center part of Birmingham is run down … so the properties are very, very cheap there,” Barone said. “It needs to be an area that’s a low-budget area but also is a nice street.”

Opportunities by Market

Distressed property-buying opportunities will be easier to find in early 2024 in markets where scheduled foreclosure auction volume in late 2023 was higher relative to 2019 levels.

Larger markets with scheduled foreclosure auction volume in third quarter 2023 that was above the third quarter 2019 level included Detroit (40% above), Denver (44% above), Minneapolis-St. Paul (28% above), New Orleans (1% above), and Indianapolis (8% above). Out of 391 U.S. markets analyzed in the data, 87 (27%) had third quarter 2023 foreclosure volumes that were at or above third quarter 2019 volumes.

On the flip side, major markets where scheduled foreclosure auction volume in the third quarter of 2023 was still less than half of 2019 levels included New York (74% below 2019 level), Phoenix (57% below), Philadelphia (65% below), Los Angeles (62% below), and Miami (72% below).

Nationwide, scheduled foreclosure auction volume in the third quarter of 2023 was up just 1% from a year ago. Scheduled foreclosure auction volumes were up from a year ago in 172 of the 319 markets analyzed (54%). Among major markets, those with an annual increase in scheduled foreclosure auction volume included Chicago (up 27%), Philadelphia (up 23%), Washington, D.C. (up 35%), Riverside-San Bernardino in Southern California (up 32%), and Pittsburgh (up 25%).

Major markets with an annual decrease in scheduled foreclosure auction volume in the third quarter of 2023 included San Antonio (down 24%), Birmingham (down 39%), Tucson, Arizona (down 24%), Nashville (down 34%), and Kansas City (down 27%).

Categories | Article | Market & Trends
  • Daren Blomquist

    Daren Blomquist is vice president of market economics at In this role, Blomquist analyzes and forecasts complex macro and microeconomic data trends within the marketplace and industry to provide value to both buyers and sellers using the platform.

Related Posts


Submit a Comment