Looking into buying an Ohio foreclosure is a great idea, whether you’re an investor, flipper, or even a regular ol’ home buyer. Foreclosures can be more affordable (and available) than retail properties, especially in competitive housing markets.
But buying Ohio foreclosures can also be complicated and risky: The purchase process is subject to various rules and regulations, you often can’t use conventional financing, and it may be harder to know what you’re buying in terms of the property condition and title.
If you’re serious about buying foreclosures, we recommend teaming up with a local agent (or two!) with foreclosure experience who can help you source and evaluate deals, navigate the purchase process, and come out on top.
In the meantime, this guide will break down everything you need to know about buying Ohio foreclosures to help you understand the process and get the ball rolling.
At a glance: State of the Ohio foreclosure market
- February 2022: Ohio had the third most foreclosures of any U.S. state
- 1,857 total foreclosure filings out of ~5.2 million housing units 
- Highest foreclosure counties: Cuyahoga, Preble, Lake, Marion, Trumbull
- Cleveland had the highest foreclosure rate of any U.S. city: 1 out of every 535 housing unit 
✍️ Editor’s take: If you’re interested in buying foreclosures, Ohio has more inventory than most states. But inventory is still limited and highly regional — and you’ll be competing with a lot of other buyers, which makes it harder to score crazy deals.
If you’re a retail buyer, check out the HUD Home Store first, because you’ll get first dibs over investors. If you’re an investor looking for rentals or flips, foreclosures should be one piece of a broader deal sourcing strategy.
How to buy a foreclosure in Ohio
“Foreclosure” is a general term that can refer to a variety of property types and/or stages in the foreclosure process:
- Pre-foreclosures: These are Ohio homes that have been issued a notice of default and are being listed on the open market to avoid an actual foreclosure.
- Homes being sold at auction: When properties go through Ohio’s judicial foreclosure process, they're auctioned off by the county sheriff’s office.
- Bank-owned foreclosures (REOs): Foreclosures that don’t sell at auction are purchased by the bank and listed on the open market with agents as real estate-owned (REO) properties.
- HUD homes: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sells FHA foreclosures via online auction. This is a good option for aspiring homeowners; HUD has lots of inventory and prioritizes owner-occupant buyers.
In Ohio, each type of foreclosure has its own set of unique rules, regulations, and considerations that factor into the purchasing process.
Buying Ohio pre-foreclosures
⚡️ Key takeaways
Pre-foreclosures are properties whose owners have been notified of foreclosure intent, usually because of delinquent mortgage and/or tax payments.
In Ohio, homeowners typically have 28 days to respond to the foreclosure request with the court. If the court rules in favor of foreclosure, borrowers can still catch up on payments or sell their homes before their home is sold at auction.
Where to find Ohio pre-foreclosures
Sellers who want to get out from under an impending foreclosure will typically list on their local MLS with an agent, so these properties are relatively easy to find online. If you’re working alone, check out dedicated sites like RealtyTrac or use filters on general sites like Zillow and Realtor.com.
If you’re working with an agent (recommended), they can set up custom alerts for pre-foreclosures in specific price ranges and ZIP codes. That way, you'll hear about new pre-foreclosure deals as soon as they hit your target Ohio markets (and MLS-syndicated sites like Zillow and Realtor.com).
How to buy Ohio pre-foreclosures
Because Ohio pre-foreclosures are being listed and sold by the homeowner on the open market, the purchase process is more or less the same as buying any other property.
Be aware of the Ohio foreclosure timeline and how close you are to the impending auction so you know how quickly you need to move — auctions must be publicly announced for at least three weeks, but the total foreclosure process can take months.
Also be mindful of the seller — they’re going through a difficult experience, so approach them with empathy and respect. In the best of cases, it’s a win-win: they get out from beneath an awful situation, and you get a good deal on a property.
⚠️ Short sales: Sometimes, sellers in pre-foreclosure will owe more on their mortgage than the home is worth, commonly known as a short sale. In these circumstances, you may have to be prequalified by and negotiate directly with their bank. Your agent will be able to guide you through this process.
✅ A few more helpful tips
- Consider including a letter explaining benefits to the seller (i.e., salvaging their credit score).
- If the foreclosure deadline is approaching, a fast close makes your offer more appealing.
- We recommend working with an experienced agent to find good properties and negotiate mutually beneficial deals.
- You’ll also want a good attorney to run a thorough title check and ensure you don’t run into any nasty legal surprises down the road.
- Keep in mind, this seller is losing their home — so be compassionate!
Buying homes at Ohio foreclosure auctions
⚡️ Key takeaways
In Ohio, if a home doesn’t sell in pre-foreclosure, it enters into a judicial foreclosure process. About five months later (sometimes longer), the home will go to public auction.
Ohio foreclosure auctions are held online and run by the local sheriff’s office. If no one buys the home at auction (which is common), the lender — either the bank or government — repossesses the home and sells it themselves on the open market or government auction site.
Where to find Ohio foreclosure auctions
Ohio requires that all auctions be announced publicly at least three weeks in advance. You can find out about upcoming auctions in real estate sections of local and regional Ohio newspapers (check publicnoticesohio.com to search multiple newspapers at once).
Check sites like RealtyTrac, Foreclosure.com, and Ohioforeclosures.com. Sometimes sites like Zillow will list auctions as well. Upcoming auctions will also be posted on your county sheriff’s website. Here are the links to the sheriff's offices for the Ohio counties with the most foreclosures:
How to purchase an Ohio foreclosure at auction
The first step is lining up your funds. Auctions are all-cash affairs, so you’ll need cash in the bank or liquid funds from a hard money lender or private investor.
Check your sheriff’s site to find all the key info you'll need for the sale:
- Appraisal amount
- Purchase agreement terms
- Minimum bids (two-thirds appraised value)
- Payment methods and timeline
- Earnest money deposit amounts
What the house appraises for changes what you'll need to put down as a deposit. Here’s a quick breakdown of typical deposit requirements in Ohio:
👉 Before you bid:
- See if you can inspect the property: If you contact the sheriff’s office in advance, they may agree to let you do an inspection. Just know that all auctions are as-is sales.
- Have an attorney run a title check: You should run a title check in advance to avoid any issues with title transfers (also consider purchasing title insurance!).
Once you’ve registered on your local sheriff’s site, you’re ready to bid on properties.
You submit bids online. Once you submit a bit in an active auction, you cannot cancel, lower, or withdraw it.
If you win, you sign the purchase agreement and submit your non-refundable deposit. Most Ohio counties accept wire transfers or ACH debit transfers. Don’t forget to account for the 10% buyer’s fee usually added to the winning bid!
⚡️ Quick note: In Ohio, the time to complete an auction sale can take up to two months:
- Court confirms sale within 30 days.
- The lender (bank or government agency) has 7 days to prepare the deed and deliver it to the sheriff.
- Final payment is due within 30 days of confirmation of sale.
- The sheriff's office has 14 days from the date of payment to record the deed.
⚠️ Be aware of Ohio’s redemption period: Ohio’s redemption period allows homeowners to settle their debts and reclaim their home any time up to the confirmation of the auction sale. That means you could win the auction but still lose the home if they catch up on payments in those 30 days before the sale gets confirmed by the court.
✅ A few more helpful tips
- Most auctioned properties are bought sight-unseen, so plan to bid cautiously.
- Many of these homes have been neglected or vacant for extended periods of time, so budget for repairs.
- Don’t assume you’ll have access to the property right away — it could be months before you get in.
- Find out if there are tenants in the property. Ohio requires that tenants receive 90 days' notice to vacate, and their lease still applies if you’re purchasing the property to rent.
Buying bank-owned foreclosures in Ohio (REOs)
⚡️ Key takeaways
In Ohio, when a bank foreclosure with a conventional loan doesn’t sell at auction, the bank automatically repossesses the property. These foreclosures are commonly known as real estate-owned (REO) properties.
Banks will typically list and sell REOs on the open market with a real estate agent, just like a retail property. But obviously, there are some key differences — namely, you’re negotiating with a bank, not a homeowner.
How to find Ohio REOs
The good news is finding REO properties is pretty easy. Banks list their foreclosure properties on the open market with agents, so REOs will show up in all the usual places: local MLSs, Zillow, Realtor.com, and so on.
But the good news is also bad news: Because they’re easy to find, there’s usually a lot of competition. And despite what you might think, there actually aren’t that many. Ohio is #3 in the U.S. for monthly foreclosures, but there were only 1,857 in February 2022, mostly clustered in a few counties. 
To get a competitive edge, find a good real estate agent who can set up MLS alerts that notify the instant a new REO hits the market in your target ZIP code(s).
💡 Quick tip: If you’re looking to buy foreclosures on an ongoing basis, try to establish personal relationships with local and regional banks in your target Ohio markets. Asset managers are eager to get REOs off their books, so if you establish yourself as a credible, repeat buyer, chances are they might come to you first, before they list on the MLS.
How to buy REO foreclosures in Ohio
Once you identify the REOs you want to buy, the process is more or less the same as any other home purchase. You and your agent will submit an offer, do an inspection, and negotiate terms.
Depending on the property’s condition, you may be able to use conventional financing (if you finance through the bank selling the REO, you can sometimes get better loan terms).
Typical Ohio buyer closing costs apply, so make sure you budget correctly. And note that banks will sometimes take longer to close, even if you’re paying with cash, so make sure to get a clear sense of the timeline upfront.
⚠️ Consider an attorney and owner’s title insurance
In Ohio, lenders are required to pay off any debts before selling a property, but that doesn't guarantee there won't be issues with title or liens in the future. We recommend working with an attorney and/or purchasing owner’s title insurance to protect yourself from issues with title in the future, especially if you're new to this process.
✅ A few more helpful tips
- REOs probably aren't going to be the cheapest deal because lenders aren’t desperate to offload a property and want to recoup their investment.
- REO lenders have carrying costs, so the longer the property has been on the market, the more likely they will negotiate with you.
- Avoid end-of-month closings because closing agents are super busy at this time.
- Be sure you have a letter of pre-approval before getting started, as lenders aren’t interested in wasting time on buyers who can’t pay.
- Work with an experienced agent and attorney to ensure your offer is submitted correctly to be seriously considered.
Buying HUD foreclosures in Ohio
⚡️ Key takeaways
When a home purchased with an FHA loan is foreclosed on, the government repossesses it and sells it via online auction in the HUD Home Store. The purchase process is quite different from other types of foreclosures, and doesn’t vary much by state, so we won’t cover it in-depth here (full guide coming soon!). But here are a few key things to know:
How to buy Ohio HUD foreclosures
Search on the HUD Home Store. You must use an agent registered to use HUD to submit bids. HUD only cares about price: It evaluates bids on a rolling basis, and will always accept the highest bid at the end of a given day that meets the minimum purchase price for that property.
🏡 HUD prioritizes owner-occupant buyers: All HUD properties are initially only available to owner-occupant buyers for a set period before bidding is opened up to investors. This makes it a good option for retail buyers looking for an affordable home. On the flipside, the properties that make it to investor bidding are often fixer-uppers.
Summary: How to buy a foreclosure in OhioYou have a few choices when it comes to shopping for Ohio foreclosures — pre-foreclosures, auctions, REOs, and HUD homes. Buying these types of homes boils down to a few steps:
- Step 1: Determine your financing — If you want a pre-foreclosure, REO, or HUD home, traditional financing may be an option depending on the condition of the property. If you want to bid at auctions, you’ll probably need the cash on hand — whether it’s yours or a hard money lender’s is up to you.
- Step 2: Search for your property — Check your local MLS and sites like Zillow or Realtor.com for pre-foreclosures and REOs. You'll likely find auction homes on your local sheriff's website, while HUD homes are on the HUD Home Store.
- Step 3: Do due diligence — Conduct a title search to ensure there are no outstanding liens or issues with the property. If possible, get an inspection and appraisal. Working with an experienced attorney and/or agent will be invaluable here.
- Step 4: Make an offer or bid — In the pre-foreclosure stage, be respectful of the people you’re dealing with. At auction, remember to account for the 10% buyer’s fee. For an REO or HUD home, be sure you’re carefully following the specific instructions for that kind of home.
- Step 5: Close on property — If you acquired the property at auction, remember not to assume the deal is complete until the sale has been confirmed and the redemption period is over.
- Step 6: Move or rent! — Congratulations! Move in and enjoy your new property — unless there’s a tenant in place. Then you need to give them at least 90 days to move out. If you’re a landlord, you need to honor the terms of their lease.
If you're ready to get started browsing Ohio foreclosures, find an agent with foreclosure experience who can start finding you deals.
FAQs about buying foreclosures in Ohio
Sofi.com. "Foreclosure Rates for All 50 States in February 2022." Accessed May 11, 2022. Updated March 12, 2022.
News5Cleveland.com. "Cleveland leads the nation in new foreclosure filings, Ohio third among states." Accessed May 11, 2022. Updated April 25, 2022.