Foreclosure inventory is down nationwide (according to Corelogic’s National Foreclosure Report), and by almost 20% on a year-over-year basis.
What difference does this make to the value of your home, you ask? As the number of homes in distress goes down, the price of homes selling in your neighborhood is more likely to go up. This is one important piece of the housing recovery puzzle.
At the same time, buyers today are very well educated about the local real estate market. Did you know that you can find out what properties are in some stage of the foreclosure process on Zillow.com for free? As with many facts today, this raw information can lead people to some flawed conclusions.
If you look at Eagle Rock, 90041, on Zillow, you see a number of homes in some form of distress -- 82, in fact. These homes are what is called Shadow Inventory (properties that are in some stage of mortgage default.) Since there are only 17 properties currently for sale in 90041, this would seem to indicate that the Shadow Inventory is 4 times the current inventory. Doomsayers might say this means that if all or most of the shadow inventory came onto the market at the same time, it would have the effect of flooding the market with distress sales and would bring prices down. Therefore, they conclude, prices are depressed in Eagle Rock.
That’s kind of like saying if everyone who came to a traffic light suddenly decided to run the red light, we would have a whole lot of accidents and insurance rates would go up. Probably true, ifthat happened, but the idea of everyone losing their minds at the same moment is unlikely. The likelihood of all or even 10 of the 82 distressed properties coming on the market at the same time is also practically non-existent.
But some people like to look at the worst possible outcome. Many buyers are hoping that the housing market will continue to be distressed so that they can still jump in and get “a deal.” Many of these same buyers have been looking for a home off and on for several years and have passed up many “deals.” I have talked to a few of these people and many of their friends who have discussed how Joe Smith should have bought that cute little house on XYZ street last year when he had the chance because now he is going to have to settle for a much smaller house for the same money.
It is very difficult to know how much a home is “worth,” especially when you are a buyer in a multiple offer situation. It’s almost as difficult when you are the only buyer about to make an offer on a house. But ponder this: what would you be thinking about the deal you made on a house if you bought it 2 or 3 years ago?
Too much information can be a bad thing. If you are expecting all this Shadow Inventory to give you the opportunity to get a great deal on a house, you're going to be waiting awhile. The reality of today's real estate market, at least in Eagle Rock, Highland Park, and the surrounding neighborhoods, is that there is low inventory available to buy, there are multiple offers on most homes, and sales prices are typically going over the asking price. Yes, even that house that you think needs a new kitchen is getting multiple offers - because there are buyers who realize that they want to buy a house now, and the longer they wait, the less house they can buy.