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By Paige Tepping

RISMEDIA, Jan. 2, 2009-Now, more than ever, home buyers are looking for the best deal when it comes to real estate. Buyers are searching the Internet, scouring the newspaper and checking out their local neighborhoods for the best investments in the area. Foreclosure bus tours are one of the many new avenues that real estate agents are using to reach out to prospective home buyers in today’s marketplace. Here, Craig Reger, a real estate broker with The Hasson Company in Portland, Oregon discusses why he chose to offer foreclosure bus tours within his rapidly-changing market.

What was your motivation behind offering foreclosure bus tours in the Portland area?

The main reason behind offering foreclosure bus tours in the Portland marketplace is to educate the public as well as the buyers, and to show them that there are excellent opportunities available. I couldn’t think of a louder microphone to use to tell people about these properties than a bus rolling down the street.

How are foreclosure bus tours beneficial to prospective home buyers in today’s marketplace?

The marketplace that we find ourselves in today is filled with a lack of consumer confidence, so the main reason in offering foreclosure bus tours is to educate the public and to show them that there are still excellent opportunities available that they can take advantage of.

Offering foreclosure bus tours gives us the opportunity to go out each week and hand select a number of foreclosed properties that have just hit the market and that have the best value. We do all of the upfront work so that we can help prospective home buyers find the best deals that are currently available.

Not only do the bus tours offer a sample of properties that are available, we also focus on the educational aspect as well. While driving between properties, we take the time to explain the foreclosure process and what most likely happened to the home from the point when the foreclosure started to when the bank took the property back.

Why is it important, especially in today’s market, for Realtors to think outside the box and offer home buyers alternative ways to find homes?

With the lack of consumer confidence that has developed within the entire real estate industry, it is crucial for real estate professionals to take the opportunity to offer their clients alternative ways to find homes, instead of sticking to the ways that have worked in the past. Differentiating yourself from your competition is a simple solution to driving business your way.

The foreclosure bus tours that I offer have given me a huge advantage within my marketplace as they allow me to keep my business at a level that I am accustomed to dealing with. In addition, this type of marketing gives me the opportunity to offer a new service to my clients and potential clients that wouldn’t have been available in the market that we experienced a few years back.

How are you using bus tours as an educational process for home buyers?

We have a lender and a home inspector on each of our bus tours, so not only are prospective home buyers getting a first-hand look at foreclosed properties that are on the market, they are also getting educated as to why the home was foreclosed on. Problem areas within the home are pointed out as well.

How have your bus tours allowed you to stay ahead of your competition?

We are offering a service that no one else in this marketplace is offering. Our bus tours are being used to let the Portland community know that there are great opportunities out there, and the public is embracing the opportunities that we are presenting.

What kinds of feedback have you gotten from individuals who have taken part in your tours?

We have received a lot of positive feedback. Buyers and participants who have taken part in our bus tours have been excited to see a property that sold for $550,000 two years ago now selling between $230,000-$250,000.

The tours have helped us secure new clients that are looking for new values. People who have participated in the bus tours and who aren’t necessarily ready to buy, like the way that we are researching the properties, and ask us to contact them when opportunities arise in neighborhoods or locations that they saw while on the tour.