Where are all the foreclosures?
Well, in today’s market, foreclosed homes are located in just about every corner of the United States. Long gone are the days when distressed real estate was hard-to-find, valuable treasure. Make no mistake, foreclosures, short sales and other distressed property types are typically still cheaper than their traditional counterparts; however, thanks to the mortgage meltdown a few years back and the current nationwide economic crisis, they are significantly more abundant.
In fact, there are so many foreclosures in some “hot spots” that banks and lenders don’t have the time or resources to repossess them in a timely fashion. That’s the reason some folks can live in their homes mortgage-free for months or even years, as well as the reason for the “shadow” inventory — abandoned/vacant homes not yet “in the system” — that sits idle for so long.
Indeed, foreclosures are essentially everywhere. And until the lenders and banks catch up, or until the economy levels out, or both, foreclosures will continue to remain everywhere well into the near future.
The good news is that foreclosed homes represent discounted real estate purchase opportunities. Banks and lenders are overwhelmed and are often eager to sell their assets as quickly as possible, even if it means slashing prices by as much as 50 percent or more. Always remember: Banks and lenders are in the money business, not the real estate business.
Cash is king.
So, since we’ve established that foreclosures are everywhere and that they still offer buyers and investors tremendous value — especially when you factor in historically low mortgage interest rates — we thought that we’d take a look at the most popular areas for foreclosure searches throughout the nation.
Just because there are more foreclosures on the market and unemployment is high, doesn’t mean that competition among buyers doesn’t exist. On the contrary, competition is stiff in desirable locations nationwide. In fact, it’s common for forward-thinking investors and others to cherry-pick the best deals, renovate and rent/re-sell them for profit.
It’s the primary reason Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) like Fannie Mae have had to implement programs such as “First Look,” which locks out investors from purchasing properties for a few days so first-time buyers don’t miss out on all the great opportunities.
In any case, here are the Top 10 most-searched cities for foreclosed homes for sale*:
- Los Angeles, Calif.
- Orlando. Fla.
- Fort Lauderdale. Fla.
- Miami, Fla.
- Houston, Texas
- Atlanta, Ga.
- West Palm Beach, Fla.
- Dallas, Texas
- Chicago, Ill.
- Las Vegas, Nevada
Florida, with four cities in the list, is clearly a major point of interest for many buyers and investors. That’s not too surprising, considering the climate and reputation for being a retirement and/or vacation home destination. In addition, the “Sunshine State” took a beating when the housing market crashed — it has consistently remained at or near the top of the collective foreclosure list since it tanked.
Even still, homeowners who paid too much at the height of the market are still struggling to get their heads “above water” on mortgages that simply no longer make sense (or cents).
It’s also no surprise that Los Angeles, where the population density is high and the real estate footprint is perhaps just as dense, sits atop the list. Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and Las Vegas are also in demand, indicating that if buyers and investors are interested in investing in these areas that they better be prepared and on top of their games.
Searching and finding foreclosures is clearly a small piece of a very competitive pie in many areas throughout the United States. It’s the first, albeit perhaps most important, step in a process that could mean the difference between making (or saving) tens of — if not hundreds of — thousands of dollars.
The best thing that you can do to improve your chances of success is to do your homework, know your target market inside-out. This way, you can identify a deal the moment you see it and are able to move fast to ensure that no one else beats you to the punch.
Timing is everything even when foreclosures are everywhere.
*Foreclosure data provided by Foreclosure.com