5 things you need to know before bidding on a condo auction 'bargain'

Auctioneer selling foreclosure at auction
Auctioneer selling foreclosure at auction

We've all seen and heard of foreclosed condos selling for less than a late-model, mid-range car. From $5,000 units in Detroit to $30,000 units in Sacramento, Calif., it seems like buying one of these über-cheap units would be a fool-proof investment. Or so you might think.

But think twice. Here are 5 critical, need-to-knows before you buy a cheapo condo:

Need-to-know No. 1: The fine print associated with the type of auction you're attending. If you plan to score your bargain-basement unit at the foreclosure auction on the steps of the county courthouse, consult with a local real estate attorney and make sure you conduct an exhaustive title search before you make your bid. It's possible to purchase one of these properties and still have to contend with other liens still on the property, like second (or third) mortgages, back property taxes and Homeowners Association (HOA) dues unpaid by the former owner.