Distressed properties provide some of the biggest bargains in NYC real estate, since homeowners in pre-foreclosure and banks with foreclosed properties usually want to sell fast--meaning you can get a steep discount. The trouble is finding the homes themselves.

Enter real estate data provider PropertyShark, which has pinpointed distressed properties in all five boroughs on interactive maps of foreclosures and pre-foreclosures, updated daily. 

To get the most out of the maps:

1. Know the basics

PropertyShark's maps are divided by borough and by type. The foreclosures maps shows all homes that have scheduled foreclosure auctions, while the lis pendens map shows properties where a lis pendens notice has been filed within the last seven days, signifying that an owner is behind on his or her mortgage payments.

Distressed properties are indicated by pins. To unlock a free mini-report with details like lot size, number of floors and square footage, register first, then zoom in and click on the property itself For a detailed report ($9.95 each, or $39.95/month for 150 reports a month) with information including the lien amount, and the place and time of the foreclosure auction, click on the apartment's address.

2. Find a specific unit

Clicking on a pin will pull up the property report for the entire building, not an individual unit. But it's easy to look up the unit in PropertyShark’s dedicated Foreclosures section by searching by ZIP Code (subscription required). When you see the address you were looking for in the search results, click on it to get the scoop.

Above: If you overlay foreclosures onto this map of recent sales, you can generate mini-reports with recent comps within the building.

3. Combine data to get more info

You can also layer different sets of data onto any distressed property map. 

For example, to get a clearer picture of a neighborhood’s financial situation on the Manhattan foreclosure mapclick the Recent Sales/Ownership button on the left side to see color-coded information showing when surrounding properties have sold; then, when you click on any distressed property, the mini-report displays a short list of comparable sales in the building.

“This is especially useful as it makes it that much easier for buyers to see comps,” says Nancy Jorisch, PropertyShark's real estate data specialist.

And a few words to the wise...

Once you have found a distressed property you’d like to purchase, Jorisch suggests “contacting the owner to see if you can execute a direct sale with him or her.”

But she urges buyers to be sensitive in their approach as some folks might be embarrassed about their situation and others may simply not want to be bothered.

Also, getting a good deal on a foreclosure is easier said than done, Jorisch notes. (See our PropertyShark Foreclosure Spotlight for examples.)

“You should do your research and consult with real estate professionals before heading to the courthouse,” she says. is a real estate website that provides in-depth data for more than 75 million properties in New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, and other major US markets. The company covers most of the U.S. with a primary focus on the New York real estate marketplace. Click here to see what services and data are offered in your area.

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