From the NY Post:
BIG GARAGE SALE
HOUSING MARKET COLLAPSE ATTRACTS BARGAIN HUNTERS
By PAUL THARP
Clint Eastwood’s gunslinger character who steps over corpses of bad guys and then spits – “Even vultures gotta eat.”
In the case of the collapsing housing market, vultures are circling for an economic feast, but they aren’t necessarily the bad guys.
Investors of all stripes are snapping up distressed assets and foreclosed properties, ranging from four-bedroom homes and mini-malls to trashed Wall Street mortgage bonds, eyeing double-digit returns on their new bets.
Some wage earners are tapping into IRA nest eggs to plow their cash into a foreclosed home or two as a safe investment, buying at steep discounts of up to 20 percent in Sun Belt towns of Florida and California.
“We’re seeing more investors from the mainstream – single guys, dentists, women executives – all looking to build up portfolios with real estate while it’s cheap,” said Dave Webb, a principal at Hudson & Marshall, the nation’s largest auctioneer of foreclosed homes.
“It’s a tidal wave,” Webb said, adding that his database of buyers, who also do a third of their deals online, has swelled many times over to more than 200,000 individual investors.
He said many are day-trader refugees from stock volatility. “They’re going back into investments they can put their hands on. If you buy right and hold for the short term, it’s probably going to be good for 10 percent, probably more.”
His auctioneers sell more than 1,000 homes a month as they race from city to city hard hit in the meltdown of subprime mortgages, where homeowners with shaky credit and limited incomes are going into default at record levels. In Detroit alone, the auctioneers sell nearly 200 a month.
Auctions could double in 2008 as more homes wind through the eight-month foreclosure process. Foreclosure filings in the first quarter of 2007 surged 35 percent to 437,489 from a year earlier, said Realtytrac.