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Personal Finance | Foreclosure Heat Map

Updated on April 28, 2015

No matter what your housing situation is, your personal finances are affected by the neighborhood around you. If you own your home it is even more critical. If you are renting, living with relatives, understanding the housing trends for your specific neighborhood is an item that is critical to your personal finance. Your home in any form - either renting or owning or living with relatives plays an important part in your daily life and in your personal fiances.

The Internet offers us new information on this critical topic. Knowing how to access a foreclosure heat map is an important tool for your personal finance.

A foreclosure heat map tells you what is happening in the marketplace, what is happening in your neighborhood and in the surrounding area.

Journey with me as we see the foreclosure heat map in action. Learn what it can mean for you and your family's finances. Whether you are owning, renting, thinking of buying, thinking of selling, see for yourself what information a foreclosure heat map can provide to you.

Foreclosure Heat Maps - Preliminary Market Research Only

When buying a home, accessing a foreclosure heat map is simply a first step in your research process. It guides you as to the value of potential markets and possible future trends.

Like all guides, they are not perfect, you still need a valuable real estate expert in the area who can share hard facts.

Remember the real estate market has price elasticity - the asking price is simply that - the asking price.

Real estate agents want to sell you that the asking price is solid - this is where you need hard number to back up the assumption.  Again the foreclosure map can guide you on the trends in the area and add more data to your decision making process.

The Hunt for Foreclosures

The Hunt for Foreclosure with a Man with Binoculars - Foreclosure Safari Bus Tour
The Hunt for Foreclosure with a Man with Binoculars - Foreclosure Safari Bus Tour | Source

Foreclosure Bus Tour

Green Bus to Tour Foreclosures
Green Bus to Tour Foreclosures | Source

Foreclosure Bus Tour Advertisement from 2009

Foreclosure Bus Tour Advertisement Dated July 25, 2009
Foreclosure Bus Tour Advertisement Dated July 25, 2009 | Source

Find a Foreclosure to Buy

Yes, at the height of the foreclosures, there were literally foreclosure buses. You don't need a bus trip or even a Realtor to find a foreclosure for you. A Realtor remains an excellent choice because of their hands on knowledge in the marketplace.

Another source for locating foreclosures is a website called  As of this writing, the monthly cost was $39.80 - a great buy if you are in the market.  However, member, your Realtor has access to this listing for free.  At closing you will need either a real estate attorney or a Realtor - plan each step of the way so that you are not buying the same services twice.

The foreclosure websites of all sorts and real estate sites list the property's asking prices.  Keep in mind, the ultimate sale price may be even lower. 

In economics we spoke of price elasticity, remember when the supply is plentiful, the price has more elasticity or room for negotiation.

As a buyer in a foreclosure market, you are in the driver seat. I cannot stress enough to do your research of the neighborhood.

Price Elasticity and Foreclosures

Everything is negotiable.  Full knowledge helps with making the best decision.  Asking prices are simply a starting point.  Do your research, know the neighborhood, learn the activity in the neighborhood.

Beware of Vacant Land Nearby

When purchasing a home remember location is paramount.  The saying in the real estate business three factors count - location, location, location is true. 

If there is vacant land nearby - learn the current zoning - this is critical for the value of your long term investment.

Hot Pads Heat Maps of Foreclosures Throughout the United States

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Colorful Foreclosure Heat MapForeclosure Heat Map
Colorful Foreclosure Heat Map
Colorful Foreclosure Heat Map
Foreclosure Heat Map
Foreclosure Heat Map | Source History

It is interesting to note that was launched to help the rental market. The search portal was designed to compare rental properties. Started by three classmates from Notre Dame University in May 2005. Two years after the launch, they added in the sale database.

Because HotPads was originally designed for renting, one of the best features of HotPads is you can search both sides of the market - renting and buying and actively compare the monthly costs.

Another great feature of HotPads is it allows you to zoom in or as we would say in accounting, drill down to more detail. You can see the county foreclosures, city and then the zip codes.

HotPad Filters and Zoom Capabilities

When searching HotPads, what I found interesting is the number of studio units that have been foreclosed. HotPads provides great filters to help you find what you need - you can filter the minimum and maximum prices, number of bedrooms, etc... The number of studio units in the Chicago suburban area should be a warning to all government officials in planning. As we were warned - condominium units are not as stable in price and appreciation. The first item for foreclosure is the condominium. The exception to the rule is the condominium in an affluent resort.

The zoom feature in HotPads is very slick - it allows a bird's eye view of your area - by city, by neighborhood - almost by block. Then zoom out and you can easily check out the entire county by which you reside or which you are simply researching.

HotPads is much more than just foreclosures, it also provides search capabilities by geographic region for:

  • For Rent
  • For Sale
  • Foreclosure
  • Vacation
  • Hotels

Additionally, the labels options provides access to major sites such as schools and large multi-family units and heat maps for demographics including income and average rent.

Foreclosure Heat Map for Illinois - Chicagoland Area

Graphic Map Detailing Foreclosure Heat Map for Illinois - Chicago land Area
Graphic Map Detailing Foreclosure Heat Map for Illinois - Chicago land Area | Source

Foreclosure Heat Map from Pink to Red

Foreclosure Heat Map Showcasing the Intensity in Florida and California
Foreclosure Heat Map Showcasing the Intensity in Florida and California | Source

Foreclosures in Graphic Form

Colorful Map of the United States Depicting Foreclosures and Rates of Foreclosures
Colorful Map of the United States Depicting Foreclosures and Rates of Foreclosures | Source

How To Access Foreclosure Heat Map

There are multiple foreclosure heat maps out on the Internet. Here we will explore a couple of different sources including:


Source for Foreclosure Heat Maps -

The foreclosure heat map is provided by Here is a link to a foreclosure heat map that I did for Naples Florida zip code 34114. Note the zip code for a city is critical, it zooms in on the area - not necessarily the neighborhood but gives you a good idea of what is happening in that direct vicinity. Naples-FL-34114 Foreclosure Per Household

Walk the Neighborhood - Talk to Neighbors

It is a starting point. Remember each neighborhood is unique and must be researched thoroughly. The smartest investors buy what they know. If you are not familiar with the neighborhood, do your homework and research - walk the neighborhood not just drive - talk to neighbors. Check out possible problems with neighbor businesses, multi family homes, etc... Always, always be concerned with vacant land. Vacant land nearby can change more than your traffic patterns for the neighborhood, it can change your value dramatically. Know the current zoning of the vacant land and realize that zoning has a possibility of changing.

Do Your Homework Beyond the Foreclosure Heat Maps

One of the homes I wanted to buy I learned backed up to a major highway planned. That highway had been planned for decades but yet the back acre of my property was scheduled to be the highway! Here was this beautiful home in the country - 4 acres - fantastic find - or so I thought and upon a little bit of research - surprise! That highway to this day is still not built, may never be built but that is the risk you run. Do you homework beyond just the foreclosure heat maps.

RealtyTrac Stats and Trends Video User Guide

Buy a Foreclosure and Rent it Out

Buying a foreclosure and renting it out is a second job and not for the person who has no follow-through. If you have a family, it demands a commitment from the entire family. Remember the cash flow initially may be negative so be prepared. Screen your potential tenants and you may ward off disaster. Our family has had great tenants and also the classic nightmare. The nightmare stories are not fiction so buyer beware.

Several of my fitness clients have opted for buying a foreclosure in a nearby area that they know well and feel will rebound.  Their purpose is to supplement their retirement income decades in the future.  A smart and frugal investment that can return substantial profits down the road.

Important Notes for Access


Ease of access.  Includes simple access tabs for foreclosure heat maps, rentals, vacation and hotels too!


As of this writing RealtyTrac required a registration with a payment method.

Heat Foreclosure Sources

If there are more sources for heat maps, please feel free to leave a note. I have listed a couple of great sources here but wish for this to be as useful as possible.

Please feel free to share your stories below. Real estates and the transaction are complicated, hearing others joys and frustration is a important item in being a savvy shopper and maintaining our personal finances. Real estate has always been one of our largest assets.

Personal Finance - Your Largest Asset - Your Neighborhood

The investment you make in your home is often the largest investment for you and your family. The possible appreciation is not to be counted upon as we have sadly learned during the times of high foreclosures. The value of your home is limited by the neighborhood. The improvements that you make may or may not be recouped - depending upon the factors of the neighborhood. Knowing the trends for your neighborhood and reviewing possible trends for future purchases and or future home improvements is key to managing your personal fiances.

© 2011 American_Choices


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