For quite a while now, bargain hunters have been able to take their time combing through Bay Area foreclosure listings. They’ve been looking for the kind of terrific real estate bargains that the last few years have provided — and there have been plenty. But recent signs show that it may be time for them to step up their efforts.
According to ReatyTrac, the outfit that reports on current real estate activity of all kinds, banks are increasingly leaning toward short sales as a way to handle defaulted properties. There are good reasons why they would prefer short sales over the foreclosure track. You would expect that if that trend is for real, we should see a decline in the number of foreclosure-related notices being issued. Last month, that is exactly what happened.
In April, fewer than 190,000 of the notices were reported. That makes it the lowest monthly total in 5 years (and a decline of 5% from March). In other words, although it takes some time for a foreclosure to occur, the writing seems to be on the wall: the high water mark in foreclosures may well have been passed.
Another sign: the average price of completed foreclosures rose from the year’s average of $226,953 to $256,027. Lower supply, higher prices — if the early trend continues, Bay Area foreclosure bargain hunters may soon find themselves having to hunt a bit harder.
There are many online resources that provide foreclosure lists: properties that are in good shape as well as distressed foreclosure properties, pre-foreclosure properties, REO foreclosures and foreclosure auctions. Anyone thinking about taking advantage of the bargains that are still out there (and they ARE still out there) should consider consulting an experienced local agent to help with the process.
First and foremost, I can provide you with a current and accurate foreclosure list. There are many web sites out there that claim to list foreclosed properties, but most of them charge fees for their listings, and sometimes contain little or no contact information for accessing a property (or worse, are inaccurate). Licensed real estate agents have the resources to obtain an accurate, timely list, as well as the experience in targeting the correct contact people.
Your agent can also be a guide through the sometimes tricky process of purchasing a foreclosed house. Many properties on the foreclosure list have not been well maintained; the lender may try to get more for the house than it is actually worth. If you intend to improve a property through your own sweat equity, our first-hand knowledge of Bay Area market values can help you project a property’s future value, too…either as an income-producing rental or to sell for profit.
To get the most bang for your buck, make sure to put your search in the hands of a professional. Call me anytime!