FLIPS AND FLOPS - Web site focusing on California market tracks foreclosures online for monthly fee

FLIPS AND FLOPS - Web site focusing on California market tracks foreclosures online for monthly fee

PropertyRadar | Foreclosure News

Standing on the front steps of the Contra Costa County Courthouse in Martinez on a recent weekday, an auctioneer rattled off the vitals about foreclosed homes for sale, covering each one in mere seconds before commencing a rapid-fire bidding process. Each home had an opening bid price -- usually the amount owed on the mortgage, $580,579.61 in the case of one Brentwood house.

Nobody among the handful of people on the courthouse steps bid on any of the properties. Each auction took less than a minute, with the auctioneer asking for bids and receiving no response. Each of the four auctions ended with the same words: "There being no further bids, this property is hereby sold to the beneficiary (the bank holding the mortgage) for the last and final time."

"It's not as lucrative as I thought," said one man, about to leave in disappointment. He had hoped the auction would be a chance to score a sweet deal, not realizing that the houses would have hefty minimum bid amounts.

Sean O'Toole, who said he has made a good living for the past six years buying and selling foreclosed homes, and has now turned his experience into a Web site called ForeclosureRadar.com, offered the frustrated bargain-hunter some advice.

"There are definitely houses that have profit in them," O'Toole told the man. "We have a site to track foreclosures. It can help you find ones that are profitable. You have to have the tools to look for them."

The man took O'Toole's card, promising to check out www.foreclosureradar.com.

"Getting one customer at a time," O'Toole said with a grin.

O'Toole, 39, said he began investing in foreclosures in 2001, after a career in the software industry, because he had been burned when his dot-com company collapsed and he wanted to spend more time with his young family. As someone who'd been writing code since he was 10, O'Toole wrote software to track properties and auctions -- then realized that other people could benefit from the data and the tools to manage it.

The result is a company based in the Contra Costa County town of Discovery Bay, where O'Toole lives. He hopes that real estate professionals, investors and home buyers will pay $49.95 a month for access to his database of all the foreclosure activity in California.

Read more on SFGate.com >

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