The recent report that foreclosure filings hit a record high 2.9 million last year might lead you to believe that the worst is over. Especially since the monthly foreclosure totals began to fall late in the year.
But that might be a misreading of the data, analysts say. Foreclosure actions fell late in the year, in large part, because banks slammed on the brakes in the wake of the robo-signing scandal. The pace could pick up again in 2011 -- with a vengeance.
RealtyTrac, the private firm that tracks and markets foreclosures, predicts buyers will have plenty of opportunities to snap up bargain-priced foreclosures in the coming year. The reason?
A large number of foreclosed homes, owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and HUD, are headed to market. Not only are the prices low, but the owners are also throwing in incentives, like preferred financing.
Where the action is
"The cherished account right now is Fannie and Freddie," said Tom Moon, a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac approved broker with Pacific Moon Real Estate in Orange County, Calif. "Any broker would like to have Fannie and Freddie because they seem to have the most properties right now."
Fannie and Freddie properties tend to be lower-priced, entry-level housing that, when it goes up for sale in a foreclosure, is priced even lower. RealtyTrac notes that, in the hard-hit housing market of Orange County, Calif., that's what is attracting the bulk of active buyers.
Second quarter reports from Fannie and Freddie show the two government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) are acquiring real estate owned (REO) properties through foreclosure at a significantly faster pace than overall growth in REO activity based on RealtyTrac data.
114 percent increase
Fannie Mae took ownership of 68,838 REO properties in the second quarter of 2010 -- an increase of 114 percent from the second quarter of 2009 -- and Freddie Mac took ownership of 34,662 -- a 58 percent increase from the previous year.
That compares with a 38 percent in REO activity during the same timeframe, according to RealtyTrac.
Then there's HUD, which acquired more than 23,000 foreclosed properties through sour FHA loans. The result, analysts say, is a large inventory of homes with a very motivated seller -- the U.S. Government or a GSE.
If the foreclosure tsunami hasn't yet peaked, it could mean another tough year for those trying to sell a home, but even better selection of bargains for buyers.