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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Reaching 100%

I certainly didn't think this would happen, although it's always been possible. I track the sales at a detail level on a weekly basis in four Townships - Milford, Highland, White Lake and Commerce. At a less detailed level, I add West Bloomfield and track the sales in those five Townships. You can see the charts that I produce and the reports at my web site - and the detailed report of sales at This week, for the first time 100% of the sales that took place in the four township area that I track in detail were foreclosures. There were only 11 sales last week, which is down from the normal 15-18 a week that I've been seeing and all were foreclosures.

I've been reporting here that I'm mainly showing foreclosures, with about 60-70% of my buyer clients interested primarily in seeing what great deals they can get on foreclosed houses. So, I guess it's not surprising that a high percentage of the sales that result would be on foreclosed houses. The reports have been running fairly consistently in the range of 50-60% of sales being foreclosures, but it never looked like it would get to 100%.
The other thing that I've noticed is that about 15-20% of the sales are at prices that are below the State Equalized Value (SEV) for the houses. In the "good ole days" one could double the SEV and come close to a market value. In fact it was running at 2.2 times SEV only 3-4 years back. Now days, the multiplier is more like 1.4-1.6 times SEV to find market value. The local governments are going to have to do a lot more re-assessing to get down to the current value levels and that will hit them hard in the budgets.

This trend towards more and more foreclosed home on the market and falling values has hit hardest at the poor regular sellers - people who aren't in distress (yet), but, who are just trying to sell their homes and move on with life. They have to compete against he foreclosed homes on the market. That's getting tougher because many of the foreclosed homes are in pretty good condition, although I still occasionally see the destructive aftermath of an angry displaced homeowner who trash the house on the way out. And there is some vandalism going on, no matter what the neighborhood. The non-foreclosed home seller still has the advantage of having a home that can usually be presented in a better manner and in better condition that a foreclosure. The issue is getting the home down to a competitive price so that they even get a look by the shoppers.

So, we've reached a milestone of sorts. Let's hope we can look back on this someday soon and say, "that was the bottom of this market." At least it can't get any worse. I think 100% is about as bad as it can get, isn't it?

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