"Since 2008, more than 2 million households have either lost their homes or going to lose their homes to foreclosure in the coming years."And even more bad news:
According to a survey from Yahoo! Real Estate and Harris Interactive, 22% of homeowners are somewhat concerned about the possibility of foreclosure due to their inability to meet their monthly mortgage obligation.I have been a homeowner in the same house for the last 20 years. Our neighborhood of 60 homes has had 2 go into foreclosure over the last 12 months. In my small town of 25,000 individuals, there are currently 272 homes for sale of which 75 are in foreclosure! The homes in foreclosure represents 28% of the total homes on the market.
So, what can a homeowner, like myself, do to protect their value? Here are 5 simple steps any household can take:
- Invest in curb appeal. Invest in fresh paint and landscaping. Trim the bushes. Weed the gardens. Make certain the lawn is cut every week. Have your friends who are real estate agents come by and give you tips on how your home can look more inviting. When you are ready to sell, the hard work will be completed and in the meantime, you will have a home you are proud to own.
- Form a neighborhood watch to observe foreclosed properties. Make sure there are no vandals or squatters in those homes. Call the police if you see suspicious activity. Banks will board up homes that are vandalized and they will consider a fire-sale, just to get that property off their books -- which will greatly impact your own value.
- Think of your home as a long-term investment. Home ownership helps create inter-generational wealth. It is the one asset that will grow over time. At some point the housing market will come around and you will be in a good position to sell your home at a fair price.
- Don't panic. Yes, there will continue to be foreclosures for the near term. Now is not the time to sell your home just because there are foreclosures. It is like making a panic run to the bank. If everyone does it, house pricing will continue to destabilize. If you think you may be approaching foreclosure, contact an attorney for advice.
- If you must sell your home, consider doing the following items to keep your home's selling price high:
- Throw in some extras. Furnishings and appliances are always good selling incentives. You can sell your place as "move-in" ready. Deck furniture, art, throw rugs are also good add-ons.
- Offer something new -- if they buy. Installing new granite tops or finishing hardwood floors can be attractive to a buyer because these things will be new or fresh to them.
- Pay the buyer's closing costs. It cuts into your profits, but you should be able to negotiate keeping the selling price high.