Foreclosure Expert Sees "Roaring Comeback" in 2009
The nation's foreclosure hemorrhage has finally slowed -- slightly, mind you -- from 84,534 REO properties in October to 84,291 in November, according to the 2009 outlook from ForeclosureS.com, released Tuesday. While the decline is largely likely an artifact of a growing push to halt pending foreclosures while lenders and government officials search for solutions to the nation's housing crisis, Alexis McGee, president at the online foreclosure investing resource says that she sees a significant decline in foreclosures as buyers return in 2009, pushing home prices up and fueling a real estate recovery. "Recovery is underway. Affordable is back in the housing market," says McGee. "In 2009, housing will not only recover, but we'll see buyers leap into this market in droves, depleting our housing oversupply, and actually put higher price pressures on the market." That's a pretty optimistic take, and one that stands in stark contrast to most assessments, given that well-known and respected economists including Mark Zandi at Moody's Economy.com have suggested that the nation's housing markets won't be likely to see a bottom until late next year. McGee has been preaching a brighter future for the housing market for well over a year, suggesting that investors start buying foreclosures; a cynic might suggest, of course, that she has strong self-interest in doing so. In June of 2007, she said "the overall economy is sound, and markets will turn around," in arguing that investors start to buy foreclosed properties. In February of this year, she suggested that investors shouldn't "be scared off by the gloom and doom talk swirling around housing markets," and should buy properties that were, in her eyes, on sale. Obviously, most investors that bought in February have likely seen their investments lose money, given most regional and national home price trends this year. And as recently as November, McGee was suggesting that a drop in pre-foreclosure notices signaled a real estate bottom, rather than the more likely seasonal effect the trend has since been proven to be. But regardless of a market that seems stubbornly unwilling to follow her predictions, McGee maintains that now is a great time for investors to buy. Low interest rates and the ability to rent out properties for positive cash flow, she says, are strong reasons to invest; of course, she also touts that investors will be able to sell their investments in late 2009 at a large profit. Which is exactly, in our opinion, what the housing market doesn't need right now: a swarm of investors with short-term horizons, looking to put properties on the market in late 2009, when most economists are suggesting a more organic bottom for the housing markets. What the numbers show ForeclosureS.com found that the number of properties repossessed by lenders following foreclosure in November is off nearly 21 percent from September's 106,415 REO filings. "Certainly some of the drop reflects growing results of government and private efforts to keep homeowners in their homes," said McGee, acknowledging the likely strong effect of moratorium and modification efforts. Still, year to date, however, 12.6 of every 1,000 households nationwide have been lost to foreclosure. The national pre-foreclosure average isn't necessarily promising, either. Pre-foreclosures, which include notice of mortgage default and/or foreclosure auction, were up 5.57 percent in November from October's totals, with 27.1 of every 1,000 households across the country facing some kind of foreclosure action. McGee said pre-foreclosure numbers are likely to climb in early 2009, albeit at a much slower rate than in 2008. "Too many homeowners already are just too overextended and likely won't seek help to work out their delinquent mortgages until after a pre-foreclosure filing against their property. That filing, it seems, is the wake-up call for many to get the help they need and sell," she said. "What I can tell...is that hardest hit housing markets have already hit bottom and others will follow in 2009," she argues. "The bottom line to keep in mind: What goes down absolutely positively will go back up again." The only question seems to be: when? Timing, after all, is everything. -- Paul Jackson contributed to this report. Write to Kelly Curran at firstname.lastname@example.org.