The troubles in the housing market these days may be unfortunate for many consumers, but it's not like many of us didn't expect such a moment to arrive. (And let's face it, some of us also hoped that when the bubble burst, we'd find something more reasonably priced in housing.) A recent move by Yahoo!
Yahoo! has launched a new section on its Real Estate site dedicated solely to searching for foreclosed properties. Searching the Foreclosure Center on Yahoo! Real Estate by geographic regions yields foreclosed properties and their prices. (Yahoo! users who wish to find out more information about the specific properties have to register with a site called RealtyTrac.) Furthermore, the Yahoo! site also gives information and advice on buying foreclosed properties. (An Associated Press article cited a source who suggested people also consult experts before trying to buy foreclosed properties -- which seems like reasonable advice, since the real estate boom was fueled by people getting awfully speculative and careless about real estate, with little thought or research as to what they were getting into.)
On an emotional, humanistic level, foreclosures are unpleasant to contemplate. However, all the stories we have been hearing about subprime lending, people taking on more mortgage than they could afford, and the specter of ballooning payments on ARM loans implies the worst may be yet to come for foreclosures. According to the AP, some experts expect that between 1.1 million and 2.2 million Americans could lose their homes over the course of the next several years. My Foolish cube neighbor Seth Jayson recently pointed out survey data that showed a third of people polled didn't even know what kind of mortgage they had, and 58% of those with ARM loans didn't know what they were going to do when their payments increased. (Learn how to differentiate between mortgage types.)
When I first saw the headline that Yahoo! was opening the foreclosure-oriented center within its Real Estate hub, I thought it seemed strange for an Internet giant with a brand that might strike one as so relentlessly upbeat. "Foreclosure" just has such a negative connotation. However, it seems that as long as real estate is going in this direction, more traditional real estate queries have likely died down as folks stay on the sidelines and wait for the other shoe to drop given the housing slowdown. It stands to reason that this new center may help Yahoo! bring back visitors as some people try to think of a way to make lemonade out of housing's lemons.
For related Foolishness, see the following articles:
- Seth Jayson recently asked what's missing from the housing hype.
- A surprisingly high percentage of recent survey respondents couldn't tell you what kind of mortgage they had. Ouch.