Bay Area home auctions triple

February 15, 2008 12:34:26 AM PST
Much of the downturn in the economy is blamed on the housing crisis. As foreclosures rise, so do home auctions.

The bank foreclosed on a six-bedroom, two-bath home in West Oakland. It wouldn't sell at $400,000 dollars, so the bank turned down offers at $370,000. Now it's on the auction block.

"Everybody's bargain hunting right now," said Real Estate Broker Kenny Sessions.

Real estate broker Kenny Sessions has more than a dozen listings going to auction in the next two weeks. He says the banks usually sell at 80 to 90 cents on the dollar.

"Some of it is properties I've had on the market for 90 to 120 days and other properties I've had for 30 to 60 days so there really is on set pattern of what they choose to take to auction," said Sessions.

He says the home's condition can be good or bad but all are in foreclosure.

"A Web site called Foreclosure Radar tracks California's foreclosure rates. The site's latest numbers show out of 51 counties, Alameda County ranks 25th in foreclosures while Contra Costa Co. comes in tenth.

Similarly, more and more homes are being auctioned but U.C. Berkeley economics professor John Quigley points out that the bidding wars of a couple years back were essentially an auction -- just implicit rather than explicit.

Quigley encourages buyers to do their homework, check the current prices of comparable properties but warns against trying to time exactly when to buy.

"It's probably a mistake for individuals to think they can do a great deal about timing the market for the purchase of their single house. If you want to time the real estate market, you can do that in real estate investment trust or other more liquid ways of investing in housing," said U.C. Berkeley professor John Quigley.

The California Budget Project of Sacramento says Bay Area home prices remain unaffordable, and the number of qualified buyers is decreasing due to stricter lending practices. But Kenny Sessions says there is hope for the working class. In one month, he sold 17 homes.