I handle REO (foreclosure) listings for several banks, including Bank of America and local banks, and the number of new listings incoming have dropped off dramatically recently. In conversation with others who handle these properties, and with local banks, this dip was often echoed. It's likely that a foreclosure moratorium in place over the winter has delayed some properties coming onto the market.
A little background research revealed that the number of bank owned listings as a percentage of all new listings did indeed peak last winter, and has since dropped dramatically. While this has occurred, demand for good values in real estate have not abated- I've got a list of ready buyers, actively seeking good values (OK, some are waiting for a great value). Driven by value, bank owned properties have cleared from the market at a rapid pace.
Here's a chart of the ratio of bank owned to total new listings since last August
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I don't expect the rate of new foreclosure listings to remain on a downward trend- there is a fair amount of consensus that we'll see a new round of foreclosures coming on the market this fall, and some indications that these are trending toward mid-range homes , and some higher end homes, as opposed to the past tendency toward the very low end of the market.
What this information reveals for buyers is that when they've identified a good value, quick action and a solid offer are in order. Prices have adjusted, and affordability is high.
What it means for sellers is that you likely have a roughly 60 day window of opportunity to sell with far less competition from distressed sale pricing on bank owned listings. This is your opportunity to price your home right, have it clean, staged and "turn key" ready and to make it as appealing as possible to purchasers.
Reinforcing this opportunity are low mortgage rates and, most importantly, the $8000 home buyer tax credit, which is scheduled to expire in November, and is driving buyers into the market.