Residential short selling is rising rapidly in some of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. U.S. banks are finally approving more short sales to pre-emptively jettison sketchy mortgage loans off their troubled balance sheets — while avoiding the increasing cost and complications involved with selling bank-owned properties. This shift means bigger discounts and faster short sales transactions in some markets.
If you’re in the market today for a home, you’re almost guaranteed to be looking at distressed properties, including short sales. Nationwide, nearly one-third of all U.S. homes sold in the second quarter of 2011 were in some stage of foreclosure, with short sales accounting for 12 percent of all residential real estate sales, according to RealtyTrac data. A total of 102,407 short sales were sold to third party buyers from April to June 2011, up 19 percent from the 86,059 short sales sold in the first quarter of 2011.
And more are expected: In Nevada, 60 percent of the properties with a mortgage are worth at least 25 percent less than the outstanding mortgage, while 44 percent in Arizona and 46 percent in Florida are underwater, according to RealtyTrac. In Michigan, 58 percent of borrowers are underwater, while 27 percent of Californian borrowers are drowning in negative equity. As many of these underwater buyers decide to sell — or are forced to sell by some unfortunate circumstance — a short sale will be their primary option.
Based on an analysis of RealtyTrac data, including average sales price, average discount, percent of all sales and the average days to sell a short sale, Foreclosure News Report compiled the following list of the Top 10 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) for buying a short sale..
1) LOS ANGELES
RealtyTrac data shows that properties sold via short sale in the second quarter took an average of 192 days to sell from the date they entered the foreclosure process, compared to an average of 186 days to sell an REO property from the time it was repossessed by the lender.
The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metro area had more short sales than any other metro in the nation during the second quarter, registering 9,145 short sales in Q2 2011. Buyers saved 32 percent on their short sale transactions. The average price of a Los Angeles short sale was $350,237.
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With short sales accounting for nearly a quarter of all sales, Phoenix buyers had no shortage of pre-foreclosures bargains to choose from. In the second quarter of 2011, Phoenix buyers negotiated 8,434 short sale transactions, paying an average $133,793, with an average discount of 27 percent.
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3) CAPE CORAL-FORT MYERS, FL
During the housing boom, homebuilding was on steroids in Southwestern Florida, dredging hundreds of miles of swampy canals into a modern-day Venice on the Gulf of Mexico. At Lehigh Acres, a team of admen transformed a sprawling ranch east of Fort Myers into a new formula in mass-marketing real estate.
But that addiction to overbuilding and overpricing has left thousands of prospective sellers seriously underwater.
Cape Coral clocked in with 1,358 short sales in the second quarter of 2011, with an average price of $111,029. Buyers in Cape Coral paid 33 percent less for pre-foreclosure (short) sales than the average price for properties not in foreclosure.
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4) OXNARD-THOUSAND OAKS-VENTURA, CA
Two thousand miles away from Cape Coral, Fla., another coastal city in California has emerged as a short sale pioneer. Oxnard is among the metros most battered by the housing slump.
For short sale buyers, there are bargains galore in Ventura County. The Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA metro had 681 short sales in the second quarter of 2011. Prices were slashed 24 percent on short sales, with the average price at $352,994 according to RealtyTrac. Short sales accounted for 26 percent of all real estate transactions.
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5) RENO-SPARKS, NV
About 60 percent of homeowners in Reno owe more on their house than the house is worth, making the short sale market in Reno is huge.
Pre-foreclosure sales alone accounted for nearly 30 percent of all sales in the second quarter of 2011, according to RealtyTrac. Buyers paid only $156,664 on average for a Reno short sale (less than it costs to build a new house), and the 702 short sales in Reno during the second quarter represented a 50 percent increase from the previous quarter.
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6) SAN FRANCISCO
Short sales in the San Francisco metro rose 47 percent from the first quarter to the second quarter to a total of 3,237. Buyers snagged an average discount of 41 percent on pre-foreclosures, although the average price for a short sale was still a lofty $364,766.
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7) SAN JOSE
Once considered a safe alternative to the overheated Bay Area real estate market, the San Jose metro — home to the Silicon Valley — has no shortage of short sale inventory.
The East Bay area of Northern California offers homebuyers and investors big discounts on short sales, averaging a whopping 41 percent savings. Despite the big discount, the average short sale price of $420,806 in the San Jose area was still one of the highest in the country.
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8) PORTLAND MSA
Portland, a metropolitan area of some 2.2 million people, is a spring board to the drizzly Pacific Northwest. The area reported a total of 756 pre-foreclosure (short) sales in the second quarter, up 39 percent from the previous quarter and accounting for 11 percent of all sales.
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Atlanta was another metro at the top of the short sale list for the second quarter, with a 21 percent bump in pre-foreclosure sales from the prior quarter. In the metro Atlanta area, 2,595 short sales were sold to third party buyers in in the second quarter, accounting for 14 percent of all sales.
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Rounding out the Top 10 was the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis metro, where 324 short sales took place between April and the end of June 2011 — up 20 percent from the previous quarter. The average price for a short sale was $107,980, 41 percent below the average price of a property not in foreclosure.
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This article was excerpted from the October issue of the Foreclosure News Report, an award-winning monthly newsletter focusing on the foreclosure market. Get a free trial issue.