Thursday, March 3, 2011

How Banks Can Turn Around The Real Estate Market

It’s one of the first marketing and public relations tips a young person learns. Do your best to turn a negative into a positive. That thought should be in big, bold letters in every banker’s office in the country.

There I was reading more less than encouraging predictions for the real estate market last night. About how the banks continue to slow down the foreclosure process, claiming it is because of the government’s mortgage modification programs. Whether or not such is really the case or if certain bank executives are too busy counting their millions in bonus money I don’t know. But I do know that this is the single most damaging element to the current real estate crisis.

Considering how the government handed over all those millions to several large banks instead of paying back thousands of specific loans, it is up to these same banks to make the sales of foreclosures the number one priority.

If you wonder why I blame the banks as I do, there is a quote from a Chief Economist at Standard & Poor’s in Banker & Tradesman saying that “The time it takes to do a foreclosure has doubled” in a story published earlier this very week. This is a lot worse than banks with one teller and 10 people in line, and our usual service gripes.

Those few consumers or investors with enough funds and/or secure enough employment to risk purchasing a residence don’t care if the next great deal is a foreclosure or a desperate seller with other motivation. They want a good deal. But if the banks are stalling the sale of foreclosures, it really means that those homes which are not under foreclosure seem “higher priced” to a potential buyer and thus less appealing.

Suppose the banks knew they should thank their lucky stars the government handed over the millions to keep them in business and got serious about helping the economy. And they made it so that homes under foreclosure were EASY to purchase and quick to close. That would entice the investors and potential buyers to get in on the best deals first, while they last.

As foreclosure homes start to sell at reduced prices, it would raise the number and percentage of available homes sold. If several homes under foreclosure in the same community were to sell within a short period of time, that would create a demand for homes in that area. Now the lowest priced homes have been purchased, and that opens it up for the most motivated sellers to adjust their pricing to be the next sale.

However, as long as the banks play the stalling game and degrade the sales of foreclosure properties, home values across the country continue to plummet and millions of current mortgages stay under water. While the banks continue to raise service fees for consumers and businesses and sitting on their foreclosures, they could be taking the lead to stimulate this economy. Here’s hoping they get the message and get aggressive about finding buyers for their properties. Quickly. Or renting them out for a monthly income. Before it’s too late for them, and for us.

Foreclosures are a negative, but I see the way to turn them into a positive.

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