Dozens of houses across Routt County are available for less than $250,000, some of which are foreclosure or short-sale properties.

Multiple Listing Service/courtesy

Dozens of houses across Routt County are available for less than $250,000, some of which are foreclosure or short-sale properties.

Routt County buyers’ interests growing in bank-owned properties

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— Foreclosures could be slowing down in Routt County, but interest in them is growing.

There are 38 single-family residential properties in foreclosure across the county, said Beth Bishop, of Prudential Steamboat Realty. In September, there were 12 closings on foreclosed properties. In October, 18 are under contract and three have closed, she said Friday.

Some of those properties are selling for less than $250,000, some for less than $100,000.

“The activity when you’re really comparing closed volume from past months, people are buying,” Bishop said, “and that’s good news for our community.”

Most of the foreclosures are single-family properties. The next most common are townhomes, and Bishop said only a few resort condominiums have been foreclosed on. Foreclosures and purchases are happening across the county but seem to be most prevalent in South Routt, she said.

“It is pretty sporadic where it lies, but I’d say a good handful relies on that South Routt, which actually has had probably the most activity it’s seen in a few years,” Bishop said.

She said the Stagecoach area is seeing almost a boom as the prices come down on units in foreclosure. Two townhomes there are listed at less than $100,000, for example. And real estate agents are seeing multiple offers on properties in South Routt, which Bishop said hasn’t happened in a couple of years.

Joanne Erickson, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Distinc­tive Properties, also reported increased activity in Stage­coach.

“For an example is a Stage­coach townhome that we had listed, and just last week, we lowered the price quite a bit, and in three days, we had two offers, and it was really price driven,” Erickson said Friday.

She acknowledged that foreclosed properties don’t represent great news.

“Unfortunately, these are homes other people have lost, so I’m very sensitive to that, and some of the people who have lost them are vacationers, second homes,” Erickson said. “I’d say they’re 50-50.”

Buyer beware

Bishop did note that foreclosed properties and short sales still represent less than half a percent of what’s on Routt County’s Multiple Listing Service. That means the Steamboat Springs regional market still doesn’t match the rest of the country.

“When buyers come from Florida and expect to get these amazing deals where they’re buying properties for $20,000, that’s not happening here,” she said.

Many banks have not been interested in lowering the price once they’ve set it for a foreclosed property, Bishop said. In addition to having realistic expectations about the price, it’s also important for deal-seeking buyers to know what they’re getting into, she said.

“The foreclosures actually can be a pretty fast process,” she said. “These are properties that are already owned by the bank, and really the buyer beware on that is an inspection — some of these properties have sat through the winter.”

That means it’s a good idea for a potential buyer to bring in not just a basic home inspector but also a plumber, a contractor and/or an electrician before closing, Bishop said. A professional will be able to examine the heating system, for example, to make sure it’s in good shape.

Although many bank-owned properties are offered as-is, Bishop said some banks have put money into foreclosed properties.

“Some of them are almost in move-in condition … and then other ones are in pretty rough shape,” she said.

Financing scene

Still, for those who qualify for a loan, good deals on good properties are available, Bishop and Erickson said. Both referred to Fannie Mae programs that can be a boon for buyers.

“There’s great deals for locals who do want to buy something and also specifically with the Fannie Mae-owned homes, they do have certain benefits for buyers who are owner-occupied,” Erickson said. “They have some good financing with low down payments and also they’ll pay 3 1/2 percent of their closing costs, and those are things they will only provide to the owner-occupant.”

Bishop cited a Fannie Mae program called HomePath, which some banks are encouraging buyers to pursue. She also said local lenders are helping people get into housing.

“The interest rates are extremely low right now, and most of our buyers actually have been using local lenders,” Bishop said.

Although it varies, she said people were getting mortgage rates from 4 to 5 percent locally.

“You combine that with some of these prices, and it’s a win-win if you’re shopping,” Bishop said.

Annette Hall, with Real Living Professional Group, said she’s seeing a fair number of foreclosures in Hayden. She’s also seeing people who are able to buy foreclosed or short sale properties and make money on them as rentals.

Now is the time for buyers with actual green, Hall said.

“If you have cash right now, you’re king, and you can get a heck of a deal,” she said.

Foreclosures slowing

There’s some indication that foreclosures may be slowing down in Routt County.

According to the Yampa Valley Partners Regional Eco­nomic Forecast for October, notices of foreclosure decreased during the summer. In May, the rate was one in 375 for properties receiving a notice of foreclosure. In August, one in 484 homes received a foreclosure notice. That’s better than the state rate for August, one home in 381, and the nationwide rate, one in 368.

But what about prices? Has Routt County’s real estate market reached the bottom?

According to the Yampa Valley Partners forecast, Routt’s median housing list price as of Sept. 20 was $548,000. That was a 4.6 percent increase month over month but a 15.6 percent decrease year over year. The month-over-month increase was “the first time an improvement has been seen in this measurement in 18 months,” according to the forecast.

Bishop said it wasn’t clear whether prices would fall further or were leveling off.

“I think you really have to evaluate different areas and subdivisions to determine that, especially in Stagecoach in some of these single-family homes and multiple offers and things going close to where the bank is listing them — that’s a real positive sign.”

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