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Foreclosure inventory dropping
Interest now picking up in short sales
Jim Muthart of Coldwell Banker Crossroads Real Estate is shown in front of a home for sale in Lathrop for $205,500. See Home Scene inside for more details.
Jim Muthart has seen it all when it comes to foreclosures.
Toilets unbolted and then stolen. Bath tubs sledge hammered. Air conditioning units cannibalized for copper. Holes punched into walls. Massive stains on carpets. And even a home where nothing was left in the kitchen except for ripped out flooring with marks left where there used to be a stove, dishwasher and cabinets,
And as a real estate agent the banks he represented expected him to sell such foreclosed homes “as is.”
That was back in September 2007 when available resale homes swelled to a record 651 in Manteca, Lathrop and Ripon. Only eight homes were selling in a month.
Fast forward to today.
More and more foreclosed homes going on the market are having cosmetic changes made – fresh paint new carpet, new linoleum, new air conditioning, and new appliances even new doors – even if they are only a few years old. The result are homes priced aggressively and with foreclosure curb appeal are going fairly quickly. It has shrunk the available inventory down to 246 as of Tuesday despite almost 20 plus foreclosures coming back on the market each week. Now 105 homes are selling in a month.
“These are not 2007 foreclosures,” Muthart said.
Even the home with no kitchen except for the walls, floor, and ceiling that is going on the market in Lathrop involved the bank doing major clean-up to make the house presentable.
As a result of the change in attitude on the part of many banks, Muthart and other agents are reporting the foreclosure inventory is prompting shifting more buyers to try their hand with short sales that just a year ago most avoided like the plague.
“You are definitely seeing a rise of interest in short sales buyers,” Muthart said.
He credits that in part to some banks who have now recognized it costs them less to negotiate possible short sale than go =through the expense of a foreclosure. Still, the key is to find a home owned by a bank that is ready to cooperate with a potential buyer.
“If the bank assigns a negotiator right away you know they have their act together,” Muthart said.
Still, short sale often take weeks – if not longer r- to get replies back from banks on offers.
Statistics show a major shift in inventories. Back in September 2007 there were almost 300 homes available for sale in Lathrop. Now it is down to 67 as of Tuesday.
Muthart said constant talk that one in five homes in Lathrop are in duress and the fact 1 in 12 homes in Manteca are in that situation has helped “more and more people realize there are bargains out there.”
Muthart, who works for Coldwell Banker Crossroads Real Estate, echoes other agents and mortgage officers who say talk that money is tight is simply just that – talk from Washington, D.C. politicians
A record 1,375 loans were made to buyers of homes in Manteca in 2008 including 1,165 resales. All buyers had to meet stricter loan standards unlike those who secured so called liar loans. So far, 349 existing homes have sold this year.
“We’re seeing more and more first-time buyers and first-time investors,” Muthart said.
Muthart is now working with a number of buyers in their 20s including a sheriff’s deputy and a teacher who just three years ago would not have been able to buy homes in Manteca, Lathrop or Ripon.
Muthart and others expect a second wave of foreclosures to start hitting the market later this year.
“The current wave peaked (maybe a few months ago) and is working its way out,” Muthart said of homes with “weird financing”, overstated income or were simply sold to people who couldn’t afford them.
Muthart said those foreclosures are still coming through but in smaller numbers.
Muthart said the next wave of foreclosures will be fueled by rising unemployment which is being made worse by the housing collapse caused by the liar loans.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail