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Distressed Properties: Are Short Sales and REOs Still Driving Business?

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Mark Stark: Some sellers in our market are still challenged, mostly at the low end, which was overbuilt in the heat of the last upswing—and we’re struggling to some extent today with lenders being overly cautious now. But there’s no question that traditional business is driving the market as a whole. Property values are up, there’s a lot of pent-up demand, and even with interest rates ticking up, they are still at near-historic lows.

Kenny Parcell: In Utah, we’re seeing a complete turnaround, with demand high and inventory at 15-year lows. Lending is tight, and while prices are steadily ticking up, appraisers seem to be looking six months back in the rear view mirror, which presents another struggle. At the same time, rental prices have gone sky high. It’s a good time to show people that buying a home could wind up being cheaper than renting.

Jason Waugh: By early summer, distressed properties in our market had dropped from being 33 percent of our business to nearly half that number—and the real estate picture has changed drastically. Not enough houses, rising prices, often multiple offers—especially now, with buyers keeping an eye on rising interest rates.

JB: We agree the recovery is moving fast—and we know that a price rise of even 1 percent may be enough to take a seller out of a short sale position. So what’s the action plan for brokers and agents now?

JW: I think consumer education is key. Go to the consumer and tell the story: “Have you considered selling? You may have more equity than you think.” Smart brokers aren’t waiting for the listings. They’re out there creating the market.

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