Friday, January 27, 2012

2012-01-27 "Foreclosures dominating home sales in Solano County" by Rachel Raskin-Zrihen from "Vallejo Times Herald"
Solano County is still seeking the bottom of the foreclosure trough, with more than half of all housing sales being of distressed properties, an industry data collection firm's most recent figures show.
"At 60 percent off all being in some form of distress, that's a huge percentage of sales," RealtyTrac spokesman Daren Blomquist said. "That compares to 20 percent nationally. ... In 2005 and '06, a more normal market, it was more like 5 percent. So, Solano County's housing market is dominated by foreclosures."
RealtyTrac's most recent data released this week, from the third quarter of 2011, also shows the number of foreclosure sales is down about 10 percent from the previous quarter, but up 19 percent from the previous year, he said.
"That says the county isn't out of the woods and still has a way to go to clear its distressed inventory," Blomquist said. "That's counter to the nationwide trend where those sales are down 5 percent from a year ago."
But it's right in line with the trend statewide, where these sales are up about 7 percent, he said.
"So, both are still clearing out the wreckage of the housing bubble," Blomquist said.
Solano Association of Realtors President Paul Winders said RealtyTrac's statistics appear reasonable.
"The figures make sense," Winders said. "But, I think we're at or near the bottom in pricing. They're not going up, but I don't think they're dropping any more."
The average sales price of distressed properties in Solano County is $179,314 -- down 3 percent from the previous quarter and 13 percent from a year ago -- which is also bad news, Blomquist said. That's about 24 percent lower than a non-distressed house here would sell for, according to the figures.
"This tells us the market still appears to be in a downward spiral and the market has yet to find its bottom," he said. "This is also happening inn other areas, but not across the board. There are some bright spots, like Phoenix and Detroit, two areas hard hit by forecloses like Vallejo-Fairfield, but maybe slightly ahead in the race for the bottom."
This can likely be explained by buyer demand and average price, he said. Though $179,000 seems low by Bay Area standards, prices in Phoenix are in the $120,000 range and around $69,000 in Detroit, he said.
"But just like there, the Vallejo-Fairfield market will eventually reach the point that the prices are low enough that it will attract buyers and prices will start going back up," Blomquist said.
Nationally, the average sales price of distressed homes was $165,322 in the third quarter, up 1 percent from the previous quarter but down 3 percent from the third quarter the previous year. The average sales price of these foreclosure-related sales was 34 percent below the average sales price of homes not in foreclosure.
"While foreclosures continue to represent an excellent bargain-buying opportunity for many buyers and investors, foreclosure sales accounted for a smaller share of the total market in the third quarter." RealtyTrac CEO Brandon Moore said. "That trend is not too surprising given the continued ambiguity surrounding proper foreclosure procedures -- and the ripple effect that has on sales of foreclosed properties that might have been improperly foreclosed."

Foreclosures at a glance -
Solano County foreclosure notices for December:
* Solano County -- 4,500, or one in every 160 units
* Vallejo -- 365, or one in every 145 units
* Benicia -- 56, or one in every 206 units
* Suisun City -- 75, or one in every 187 units
* Dixon -- 33, or one in every 202 units
* Fairfield -- 229, or one in every 131 units
* Vacaville -- 180, or one in every 195 units
* Rio Vista -- 20, or one in every 130 units

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