Homebuyer Interest in Foreclosures

The stigma associated with foreclosure purchases has apparently faded, with interest in foreclosures nearly tripling in the past two years, according to a survey released Wednesday by Realtor.com

The survey, conducted over 1,004 phone interviews at the beginning of May, suggested that homebuyer interest in foreclosures has jumped 159 percent since October 2009, when foreclosures made up 29 percent of all home sales. Nearly two-thirds (64.9 percent) of homebuyers surveyed said they’re likely to purchase a foreclosure, a huge increase from 25.3 percent two and a half years ago. The vast majority of buyers said they would want to live in their foreclosure purchase, with 92.1 percent looking for a home to live in and only 6.9 percent looking for foreclosure investments. “We see a combination of factors coming into play explaining the unexpected interest in foreclosures,” said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Realtor.com operator Move, Inc. “Reductions in supply, expectations that home prices will rise, and changing attitudes towards foreclosures are contributing to the increased, especially among owner-occupants. As lenders begin processing their distressed inventories and releasing them for sale at the local level, we look to them to move carefully and monitor conditions so recently gained home values aren’t diminished

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Preparing your home for sale

Deciding to list your home for sale is a momentous time. It means you will be moving on to a new stage of life, no matter if you’re moving up or sizing down. Take a moment to look over these tips for what every seller should do before they put their home on the market. •Organize Your Paperwork: Every homeowner should have a detailed list of all past repairs, updates, and upgrades they’ve made. This will help your agent know what should be mentioned on the MLS. Did you put on a new roof in 2010 or a install a new water heater in 2009? These are great selling features because they mean less work in the future for the prospective buyer. Also included in this list should be any home warranty information. These warranties will most likely transfer with title of the home. •Get Ready to Declutter: Even before you’ve officially listed your home for sale, you should start getting rid of things you don’t need. Starting now will mean a more thorough and less rushed job of clearing things out. Start with one closet and work your way through the entire home. Sort items to toss, keep, sell, and donate. Having a yard sale is a wonderful way of making a little extra pocket change while reducing the amount of things you’ll have in your home during showings and that you’ll need to pack up and move. It’s a win-win! •Clean, Clean, and Clean Some More: Dirty homes are a real buyer turnoff. Now is a great time wash down walls, spruce up paint, and give your entire home a thorough cleaning. Do your carpets need refreshing? Consider renting a carpet shampoo machine or hiring a professional carpet cleaning company to come in and revamp your carpets. Chances are buyers will ask for this anyway come closing time. You’ll beat them to the punch and have a shiny, sparkling home to show for it. •Get an Inspection: Did you think inspections were only for buyers? Having a pre-sale inspection can mean identifying problem areas. Perhaps you’re unaware that your foundation needs repaired. This will severely affect your listing price. It’s best to be prepared and realistic in today’s market. •Make Repairs or Get Estimates: Your inspection will likely leave you with a list of repairs, large and small, that need made. Keep in mind that prospective buyers will also get an inspection of your home and will find these same issues. Head them off at the pass and do some fixing up. You may wish to go ahead with large repairs. If not, be sure to at least get estimates so you are fully prepared for negotiations (you’ll know what the real cost should be) or so you can provide the estimates for buyers. •Start Staging: Staging is like prepping your home for its first date. You want to have it clean and well-dressed. This means amping up curb appeal with neat landscaping, fresh paint, and flowers. It means rearranging furniture and removing clutter. Congratulations on deciding to list your home for sale. Be proactive about making a good first step by following these tried and true tips.

Underwater Mortgages Rise

The percentage of homeowners with mortgages who owe more than their homes are worth continued to rise during the first quarter, but only 1 in 10 of underwater homeowners are seriously delinquent on their loans, according to estimates released today by real estate search portal Zillow.

Zillow — which looks at outstanding loan amounts on individual properties, and compares them with estimated valuations for each home that are generated by computer models — estimates that 15.7 million homes were underwater during the first three months of the year.

That’s 31.4 percent of all homes with mortgages, up from 31.1 percent during the last three months of 2011 (not all homeowners have mortgages).

Although just 10.1 percent of underwater homeowners were more than 90 days behind on their mortgage payments, that represents nearly 1.6 million homes that could eventually hit the market as distressed properties.

Numbers like that can put fear into the hearts of would-be homebuyers, since distressed properties sell at discounts that can drag down home prices. Those effects are highly dependent on individual market conditions.

Zillow estimates that nationwide, about 2.4 million underwater homeowners owe more than double what their home is worth. In the Las Vegas metro area, 26.8 percent of homeowners with mortgages are that deeply underwater — nearly 90,000 homes.