Despite rising home prices in many markets, buyers can still find plenty of deals in foreclosures and other distressed properties.
Foreclosures and short sales, where homes sell for less than owners owe on their mortgage, accounted for 43% of residential sales last year, according to data released this week by RealtyTrac, a real-estate data firm. Short-sale purchases increased 4% from a year prior, while sales of homes in pre-foreclosure ─ that is, in some stage of foreclosure before a home is repossessed ─ increased 6%.
Fueling these increases are big discounts for the taking. In many markets ─ including Chicago; Daytona Beach, Fla.; and Santa Barbara, Calif. ─ buyers were able to purchase distressed properties during the fourth quarter of 2012 at an average discount of 30% to 50% off what they'd pay for a regular, nondistressed home, according to RealtyTrac. In many cases, these discounts are available in markets where real-estate prices as a whole appear to have bottomed out, experts say.
推动成交量增加的，是随处可见的大幅折让。据RealtyTrac数据，2012年第四季度，在芝加哥、佛罗里达州代托纳海滩(Daytona Beach)、加州圣巴巴拉(Santa Barbara)以及其他很多市场，买主能够以比普通非不良房产平均低三到五成的价格买到不良房产。专家说，在那些房价似已总体反弹的市场里面，很多时候买房人同样可以拿到这样大的折扣幅度。
Cheap finds come at a time when many buyers are facing a tightening housing market. Real-estate listings have been dropping, pushing up prices of regular homes in many markets. As a result, listing prices of regular homes have been picking up.
In contrast, with distressed properties, buyers still can save hundreds of thousands of dollars. Working in their favor, in part, is that banks are more willing to unload homes as short sales than in previous years. Some banks are offering homeowners who are behind on mortgage payments cash in exchange for selling the home in a short sale. (Bank of America, for instance, has been offering as much as $30,000 to qualifying homeowners since last year.) That's led to more short sales selling at a discount. And after years of a growing backlog of foreclosures, more of these listings are hitting the market, says Daren Blomquist, vice president with RealtyTrac, as courts process more of these cases. (Many states require court approval before a home can be repossessed by a bank.)
相比之下，购买不良房产仍然可以省下数十万美元。一定程度上对买房人有利的是，银行比前几年更愿意将房产作为短售房抛掉。有些银行为贷款逾期的业主派发现金，让他们把房屋以低于贷款余额的价格卖掉。（比如美国银行(Bank of America)去年以来就在向符合条件的业主派发最高三万美元的现金。）这导致折价出售的短售房多了起来。RealtyTrac副总裁戴伦??布洛姆奎斯特(Daren Blomquist)说，在经历止赎房持续多年的积压之后，随着法院处理的止赎案件越来越多，越来越多的止赎房正在投放市场。（很多州要求银行在收回房产之前须得到法庭许可。）
Experts warn that purchasing a distressed property is not typically an easy process. Buyers could end up waiting four months or longer to find out from a bank whether their offer on a short sale has been approved. And real-estate agents say bidding wars have intensified, with purchase prices of distressed homes often surpassing asking prices. In Charlotte, N.C., for instance, purchases of bank-owned properties (those that the banks have repossessed) increased 109% in the fourth quarter of 2012 from a year prior, according to RealtyTrac. Mike Hege, a real-estate agent with Pridemore Properties in Charlotte, says these homes often receive offers from 20 different buyers. Buyers should also consider the condition these properties are in and how much cash they'll have to spend for repairs.
专家提醒，购买不良房产的过程通常不会顺利。买主可能要等上四个月甚至更久，才能从银行那里得知他们的短售房报价是否已经获批。中介说，不良房产的竞价也是越来越激烈，成交价常常超出挂牌价。比如在北卡罗来纳州的夏洛特市(Charlotte)，据RealtyTrac数据，2012年第四季度银行持有房产（即被银行收回的房产）的成交量较上年同期增长109%。夏洛特市房地产经纪公司Pridemore Properties的经纪人麦克??黑格(Mike Hege)说，这些房产常常会收到20个不同买主的报价。买房人还应考虑这些房产的状况如何，以及将需要花多少钱用于修缮。
Even with such price pressures, buyers can find big discounts on distressed homes in several markets.
Here are five cities where homes are still cheap.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Average short-sale price: $283,825
Average discount vs. nondistressed sales: 42.69%
Santa Barbara experienced the biggest increase in short-sale purchases, which rose 107% during the fourth quarter from a year prior, nationwide, according to RealtyTrac. Real-estate agents say buyers returned to the market late last year in search of deals as home prices appeared to bottom out: the median sales price of all properties in the city was roughly $600,000 at the end of 2012, down from about $700,000 in 2010 and approximately $800,000 in 2008, according to listings site Trulia.
Many of these buyers encountered limited inventory, so they broadened their search to short sales, says Rick Hannay, owner broker of Avalar Real Estate of Santa Barbara. In total, there were just 436 listings in Santa Barbara in December, down 20% from a month prior and down 31% from a year prior, according to Sotheby's International Realty.
圣巴巴拉Avalar Real Estate公司的业主经纪人里克??汉内(Rick Hannay)说，很多买主遇到存量有限的问题，所以他们将搜寻范围扩大至短售房。据苏富比国际房地产公司(Sotheby's International Realty)数据，12月圣巴巴拉仅有436套房产挂牌，较前一个月下降20%，较上年同期下降31%。
Buying short sales also came with another perk: bigger discounts. Short sales in this market sold at a 43% average discount compared with regular listings, according to RealtyTrac. The discounts could have been bigger were it not for bidding wars, says Hannay. It's common for short sales to receive up to a dozen offers within their first few days on the market, he adds, which results in a purchase price that's higher than the listing offer.
Average short-sale price: $149,094
Average discount vs. nondistressed sales: 37.84%
Buyers have been rushing into Phoenix in search of big deals. Short-sale purchases increased 43% during the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with a year prior, according to RealtyTrac. It's not just investors who are behind the trend. Owner occupants are also competing for these properties. Given the competition, experts say, buyers looking to pick up a short sale will have a better shot if they come to the table with an all-cash offer.
But real-estate agents warn that the window of opportunity to snatch up distressed properties at real discounts is closing. Short-sale inventory is falling: There are currently 3,700 short-sale listings in Phoenix, down 56% from a year ago and down 76% from two years prior, says Brian North, cofounder of Green Street Realty, a boutique brokerage in Phoenix that specializes in short sales.
但房地产经纪人提醒，在凤凰城以实实在在的折扣幅度买到不良房产的机会即将消失。凤凰城短售房存量正在下降。凤凰城专做短售房的精品经纪公司Green Street Realty的联合创始人布里安??诺斯(Brian North)说，目前凤凰城有3,700套短售房挂牌，较去年减少56%，较两年前减少76%。
And buyers are more likely to encounter bidding wars, which will likely drive the purchase price up, he says. They should consider how much work the property will need in repairs to make sure that the short sale will be cheaper than buying a regular listing.
Average short-sale price: $124,555
Average discount vs. nondistressed sales: 33.4%
Despite being ground zero for the housing bust, there are a lot more short-sale listings to come to Las Vegas, says Paul Rowe, director of short sales at Shelter Realty, a real-estate brokerage based in Henderson, Nev. Nearly 8,000 homeowners in Vegas are currently in default on their mortgages, according to RealtyTrac ─ and their properties could turn into short sales or foreclosures. '[Short sales] aren't going anywhere for another two to three years,' Rowe says.
内华达州汉德森市(Henderson)房地产经纪公司Shelter Realty短售房总监保罗??罗韦(Paul Rowe)说，虽然拉斯维加斯直接受到楼市泡沫破灭重创，但仍会有很多新的短售房上市。据RealtyTrac说，拉斯维加斯按揭违约的业主将近8,000户，他们的房产可能会变成短售房或止赎房。罗韦说：“（短售房的上市）还要再持续两到三年。”
That could give more options to buyers looking for a deal. There are roughly 16,600 listings in Las Vegas, down 24% from a year ago, according to the Department of Numbers, which tracks real-estate data. While that's pushed up prices roughly 17% over the past year, prices could reverse course if there's an influx of short-sale listings.
这有望给正在寻找良机的买房人以更多的选择。据跟踪房地产数据的Department of Numbers公司的数据，拉斯维加斯挂牌待售的房产约有16,600套，较上年减少24%。虽然房价受此影响在过去一年上涨了17%左右，但如果有大批新的短售房上市，则房价有可能掉头回落。
Average REO sales price: $57,782
Average discount vs. nondistressed sales: 56%
Cheap prices have helped give a boost to home sales in Cleveland. Buyers looking for rock-bottom prices turned to bank-owned properties ─ also known as real-estate owned or REO properties, homes that lenders repossessed after foreclosure ─ which were selling for less than $60,000 on average during the end of 2012, a 56% discount off regular listings in the city. During the fourth quarter of 2012, there was a 141% increase in buyers purchasing these properties from a year ago ─ the largest purchase spike for REOs nationwide, according to RealtyTrac.
Experts say deals are unlikely to go away soon. Home sales have been dropping since mid-2012, according to data from Trulia.com. And many existing homeowners are facing foreclosure. One in 10 homeowners in the Cleveland metro area was 90 days past due or in foreclosure in the fourth quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
专家说，购房良机不太可能马上消失。Trulia.com 的数据显示，2012年年中以来克利夫兰住房成交量一直在下降。而很多老业主面临着止赎的可能。按揭贷款银行家协会(Mortgage Bankers Association)的数据显示，克利夫兰都会区有十分之一的业主贷款已经逾期90天或已被终止赎回权。
Of course, while real estate is cheap, buying property in Cleveland isn't without risk. While the city's unemployment rate is lower than the national average, job losses have contributed to home price declines.
Average REO sales price: $111,260
Average discount vs. nondistressed sales: 43%
Sales of bank-owned properties shot up 109% in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to RealtyTrac. Real-estate agents say investors and individual buyers who want to occupy the homes are behind the sales. Hege, of Pridemore Properties, who specializes in REOs and short sales, says he sold roughly 20 bank-owned homes last year, about double the number in 2011.
Cheap pricing is creating an opportunity for buyers who are relocating from pricier markets, like New York and Boston, he says. After selling their homes, these buyers often have enough cash to buy a home outright in Charlotte, he says.
The state is also home to several other markets with big spikes in REO purchases, including Winston-Salem and Greensboro. According to RealtyTrac, those homes sold at an average discount of 49% and 40%, respectively, compared with regular listings during the fourth quarter.