The Wall Street Journal has this on foreclosures. “As a weak housing market nudges the foreclosure rate higher, next year is looking promising for investors in distressed real estate. So far, the U.S. housing slump hasn’t produced a bonanza for such investors, but lenders stuck with foreclosed property are becoming more inclined to slash prices or sell properties through auctions, industry experts say.”

“‘We’re all going to have to be more creative in the next 12 to 24 months’ in selling foreclosed homes, says Chad Neel. Mr. Neel’s company helps lenders manage and sell foreclosed homes.”

“Williams & Williams Inc., a Tulsa-based auctioneer, says its sales of foreclosed homes will nearly double this year to about 5,060. CEO Dean Williams expects another near doubling of sales in 2007.”

“Dallas-based Hudson & Marshall Inc. expects its auction sales of foreclosed properties to total about 4,800 this year, up 23% from 2005. David Webb, co-owner of the auction company, believes sales will rise at least 20% in 2007.”

“The auction firms say their busiest auction markets recently have included Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Texas and Colorado. ‘Word on the street is that California, Florida and Arizona will also be very active in the next 12 months,’ Mr. Webb says.”

“In the first half of 2006, REO properties accounted for 3.1% of all U.S. home sales, up from 2.4% two years earlier, according to a study. The study found that those homes sold at a median discount of 14% to their estimated value in the first half, compared with 12.5% two years before. The discounts reflect the gap between the actual sale price for the homes and the value estimated by a computer model, which takes into account sales of comparable homes nearby and price trends.”

“It has taken a while for foreclosures to mount. The housing boom of recent years reduced foreclosure rates because most people who fell behind on their loans could refinance or quickly sell their homes for at least enough to pay off the loans.”