Sunday, February 28, 2010

Foreclosures can put dream homes in reach

Here's one family who saw an upside from this recession: the Coopers.
Electric cooperative employee Chris Cooper managed to buy a nearly new five-bedroom brick home in Murfreesboro in January for $235,000, about $86,000 less than the previous owners had paid three years prior.

Not all is gloomy in the housing market, particularly if you're a buyer, as the Coopers found out. Several families are discovering they can get houses in neighborhoods they couldn't afford a few years ago. For those with cash on hand and good credit, the recession has its silver lining, a plethora of good deals in excellent neighborhoods as the market corrects for an age of overheated finance and indulgent consumption.

The Coopers stayed on the sidelines through much of the housing boom. Chris Cooper is a purchasing manager with a stay-at-home wife, Rhonda, and four children. They lived in the same three-bedroom house in Murfreesboro that they had bought for $113,000 about a dozen years earlier.

But in recent years, the house was feeling cramped for their rather large family. They looked into adding to its size, but rejected that idea when they found out it would cost $90,000.

They liked a five-bedroom, four-bath with 3,300 square feet about three miles away in Liberty Valley subdivision. After the house had been on the market for nearly eight months, its list price dropped by $100,000. It was listed as a short sale, meaning the seller owed the bank more than the house was worth.

The subdivision has eight short sales or foreclosures on the market out of 211 homes, said Keller Williams affiliate broker Tamara Ludlam, who listed the home.

The Coopers made a slightly lower offer and got the OK from the bank within a month.

Such short sales can take six months or more to get approved. And, unlike some foreclosures, this house was in good shape, with hardly a nail hole in the wall.

"It was the kind of place we would have driven by a few years ago and said, 'Wouldn't it be nice if we could afford something like that?' " Chris Cooper said. "If I stay here a few years, I've probably made a good investment. It's sad, though. It's probably why the banks are in the shape they're in."

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