Buyers look into foreclosed homes

April 24, 2008 9:36:46 AM PDT
Home foreclosures are at record highs in the Bay Area. And while that's bad news for those homeowners, it could mean a good deal for home buyers.

The DataQuick real estate research service reports that one out of every three homes for sale is a foreclosure.

It's the ying and the yang of the real estate market. Even though the mortgage makes it hard for some people to get loans, it also means that it is a lot easier for other people to find a home that they can actually afford.

San Jose realtor Jim Matzen has given himself a crash-course in selling foreclosed properties.

It is a market unto itself in Santa Clara County, where there were more than 3,000 of them just this year so far.

"It's a buyers market for certain out there," said Matzen.

In Stockton, realtors trying to make the most of the foreclosure glut take buyers on "the repo" bus for a tour of foreclosed homes.

Matzen heard about a similar bus tour in another market, and has now started foreclosure bus tours of his own in the Bay Area.

The first one in February was a huge success and now he's doing it again in May. He and his partners say they're trying to provide a service with no strings attached. Signing up for the tour is free.

"Our mantra is information without obligation," said Matzen.

Matzen says there's no centralized way to search for foreclosures online -- and foreclosure auctions are risky business because buyers rarely even get to see the home first.

He also cautions that foreclosed, doesn't mean free and if a deal looks too good to be true -- it probably is.

"If they think they are going to get a home that's $600,000 for $300,000, that's not going to happen either. But can they find a home that's under market value? They probably can, but maybe by five percent, not by 50 percent," said Matzen.

Single mother of three Robbyn Keys thought she could never own a house. With Matzen's help, she bought a home in San Jose and moved in two weeks ago.

She looked at a lot of foreclosed properties. This one was a foreclosure, bought and flipped by someone else, then bought by her.

"It all worked out. You just have to be patient, you have to find the right real estate agent that's patient with you," said Keys.

That was her sixth offer, her sixth and winning offer. Matzen's next tour is scheduled for May 10th.


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