Few Rim Country Homes Facing Foreclosure

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Although Rim Country real estate is suffering, recent data indicates home foreclosures are nowhere near the level of the Valley, which has seen foreclosure numbers jump higher nearly every month.

Foreclosure numbers have raised enough in the area for the Central Arizona Board of Realtors (CABR) to start keeping track of them — something it has never done before.

Around 2.5 percent of all land and homes for sale in central Arizona are in foreclosure, roughly 26 properties, said CABR President Annette Bashaw. Compare that with the Valley’s 20.5 percent of bank-owned properties, and the central Arizona market appears to be doing well, although home prices have dropped nearly 10 percent.

Of the almost 56,000 homes for sale in the Valley, 11,400 are in foreclosure and another 16 percent are in short sale, according to Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service Chief Executive Officer Bob Bemis. A short sale occurs when a lender discounts a loan balance for the mortgagor.

Bashaw said she does not expect the number of foreclosures to go higher than 3 percent in the Rim Country, but she does expect foreclosure numbers to rise gradually for another year and then level off.

In today’s market, people are taking advantage of the growing number of foreclosures and are scouring the Web looking for good deals. CABR is seeing an increase in callers and Web searchers for bank-owned properties.

“In the past, there were not enough (foreclosures) for us to track,” she said, “they just didn’t exist.”

Two weeks ago, CABR updated its multiple listing system to include foreclosure properties, something it never tracked before.

“We have never had the number of foreclosures that the Valley has had,” Bashaw said. “But now, buyers are making that request for those properties.”

Bemis said in the Valley, buyers are increasingly snatching up distressed properties, sending the number of distressedhome sales up 59 percent, year over year in October.

“There are so many bargain properties out there,” Bemis said.

While the Payson market also has bargain properties available, there was a 62-percent drop in the number of homes sold in November, Star Valley saw a 100-percent decline in sales to zero and central Arizona had a 54-percent sales drop.

Central Arizona includes an area from Clear Creek/Happy Jack to the north, Tonto Basin to the south, Strawberry to the west and Christopher Creek to the east.

This is the fifth month of no home sales in Star Valley. In 2007, only August had no sales. Bashaw said several buyers have been leery of buying in Star Valley because the town has yet to secure a water company, sewer service or a police force.

However, sales can vary dramatically from month to month and year to year, given the small numbers of homes sold in both towns and central Arizona.

Today, lower-end homes, under $500,000, are selling faster compared with only five months ago when upper-end homes were the norm.

“Overall we are looking at $300,000 and below homes selling, while $1 million homes are the exception,” Bashaw said.

Bashaw said there is a strong trend in condominium sales, with fewer days on the market.

Condominiums are popular among singles and retirees looking for a small, safe community that offers lower maintenance.

“But we have such an eclectic market up here, with mobile homes, manufactured homes, horse properties, a golf community and they are all within a square-mile range,” she said.

Realtors across the state agree that today offers a buyers’ market.

“Home prices have dropped 10 percent in the last six months, so it is definitely a buyers’ market,” Bashaw said. “Everything is on sale.”

The median resale prices fell $20,000, from $240,000 in October to $221,000 in November, and the median resale price is down 20 percent from $276,750 in November 2007. With crashing home prices, Bashaw said more sellers are deciding to take their home off the market and wait for the market to rebound.

“More sellers are taking them off the market and waiting until spring and then will re-list,” she said.

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