Imagine this. An investor goes into a new high rise in 2003 and buys about a dozen luxury condominiums. He never sells any of them or even moves into one. He just lets them go to foreclosure. Or this: A new luxury condo never once lived in valued at $1,000,000 sells in foreclosure for $605K. Another one sold for $390,000 cash in 2007 when even the county had it valued at $675K. How about an $824K luxury condo that sold for $605,000 after the bank foreclosed. These are not wild concoctions, but rather true stories from realtor Ryan Schulz who has been working the metro Denver foreclosure market exclusively for the last several years.

And Schulz has other stories on the opposite end of the spectrum, like a foreclosed property he listed for $59,000 that brought in 15 offers and eventually sold for $90,000. He once had 10 offers on a home listing for $156K, with the winning bid coming in at $175K.

It would seem by the flurry of activity that some people truly believe “there’s never been a better time to buy.” There is, however, a catch. Location, location, location. The above-mentioned properties are in strategic hot spots. Contrast these properties with others in different parts of Denver that haven’t ever seen an offer. So where are the hot areas to buy foreclosures? According to Schulz, Central Denver is on fire, with Littleton and Westminster close behind.

Still, Schulz will be the first to tell you that deals like the ones above don’t come along every day. In most cases the bank-owned homes he lists are in poor condition, and that’s being kind. If you’re considering the foreclosure market, just make sure you have the dough to fix up a place. Schulz offers this additional advice: Study the neighborhood to make sure the value is there, then act fast if you think it’s a good deal. Remember, you may have to offer more than full price. Finally, he cautions against buying with the idea of fix and flip; instead, plan on holding and renting. Schulz received 150 e-mail inquiries for one rental property in Washington Park.