By Maria Patterson
RISMEDIA, May 21, 2009-According to the results of a new survey from Harris Interactive, there is a notable gain in consumers’ willingness to buy foreclosed properties, with 55% of U.S. adults indicating that they are at least somewhat likely to consider purchasing a foreclosed home in the future, compared to the 47% of U.S. adults who indicated the same in November 2008. The tracking survey was conducted on behalf of national real estate search engine, Trulia.com, and RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties.
“Foreclosures are at the heart of the housing crisis and monitoring consumer attitudes toward foreclosures is extremely relevant,” explained Pete Flint, co-founder and CEO of Trulia. “A lot of foreclosure inventory is being taken off the market. The results of this survey show that this is clearly good news for the economy.”
Flint ads that about one quarter of all homes on the market, have witnessed a price cut at least once.
According to the survey, in the current market, U.S. adults believe foreclosed homes are an even greater bargain opportunity than before, with 40% expecting to pay at least 50% less for a foreclosed home, compared to only 31% of U.S. adults surveyed in November 2008 who expected that type of discount. This could explain why site traffic is peaking at RealtyTrac.
“In some cases, people are overestimating what they might expect in the form of a discount on a foreclosure property,” said Rick Sharga, senior vice president of RealtyTrac. “There is a discount percentage of about 31% nationally, but these are national numbers that will vary dramatically from market to market.” In San Bernadino, California, for example, some assets are currently selling at 20% of their original sales price, explained Sharga, who added that well over half of what’s moving on today’s market is some sort of distressed asset.
Survey results also revealed that first-time homebuyers represent the group most interested in purchasing foreclosure property. Two-thirds of U.S. adults between the ages 18-44 (66%)-comprised largely of first-time homebuyers-would consider purchasing a foreclosed home, compared to a little more than one third of those ages 55 and older (38%). Respondents aged 45-54 fell in between, with 53% indicating that they would be at least somewhat likely to consider a foreclosed property.
“First-time homebuyers are a big part of the (foreclosure) market,” said Sharga. “Probably between 50 and 60 percent of foreclosure sales are going to first-time homebuyers; another 30 percent is probably going to investors who are reselling them at another discount or hanging onto them as rental properties. Most of the financing for foreclosures is cash from investors and FHA loans for first-time homebuyers.”
Although survey results indicate that 85% of U.S. adults are concerned with the negative aspects of buying a foreclosure, with 71% citing hidden costs as their top concern, most people are “still underestimating the price it will take to repair the home,” says Sharga.
The May 2009 survey also found that 74% of U.S. adults familiar with President Barack Obama’s Mortgage Relief Program are at least somewhat confident it will give homeowners the incentive to renegotiate with mortgage lenders in order to prevent their homes from going into foreclosure.
“The government is trying to take action,” says Sharga. “The Obama plan might not be perfect, but it’s the most comprehensive plan to date.” Sharga adds that the administration’s recently introduced plans to streamline the short sale process and encourage deeds-in-lieu are also signs that the government is “looking at more creative ways to address the problem.”
While Flint and Sharga agree that there is a long road ahead toward full recovery in the housing market, the survey’s results are promising.
“Across the US, 24 percent of existing homes for sale on the market have seen at least one price reduction in order to stay competitive, creating a tremendous opportunity for consumers to buy homes at significantly lower prices,” said Flint. “Consumers are bargain hunting; they’re aware of the changes in affordability. The bad news is, we don’t quite see the bottom yet; the good news is, things are getting less worse.”
Other survey results include:
• Current renters (68%) are more likely to consider purchasing foreclosed homes than current homeowners (49%).
• U.S. adults with children under 18 living in their household also show an increased likelihood to consider foreclosure properties, with 66% indicating they would be at least somewhat likely to purchase one, compared to 49% of those without children under 18 in the household.
• U.S. adults aged 18-34 familiar with the program have the highest confidence level in the Mortgage Relief Program; 84% are least somewhat confident in the plan, compared to 71% of those aged 35-44, 69% of those aged 45-54, and 71% of those aged 55+.
• Women familiar with the program are more likely to be at least somewhat confident in its ability to give homeowners the incentive to renegotiate with their mortgage lender in order to prevent their home from going into foreclosure than men familiar with the program (79% vs. 69%, respectively).
*This May 2009 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive via its QuickQuery(SM) online omnibus service on behalf of Trulia between May 1-5, 2009 among 2,397 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older. Results were weighted to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and propensity to be online.
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