There’s good news and bad news about foreclosures in the area.
The average price of foreclosed homes across Fairfax County is well above the average price across Virginia and the nation—that’s the good news.
The bad news is that there has been little improvement in the number of foreclosures on the market in Fairfax County in the past year.
Virginia has about 15,000 homes that were bank-owned or in foreclosure, or 1.1 percent of the United States’ 1.34 million foreclosures. Sixteen percent of Virginia’s foreclosures were in Fairfax County. According to RealtyTrac.com, there were 2,431 Fairfax County homes in foreclosure in late March.
The Centreville area had 377 homes that were bank-owned or in foreclosure as of March 20, 2012.
Of those homes, 129 were in the 20120 ZIP code, 107 were in the 20121 ZIP code, and 141 bank-owned homes were in the 20122 ZIP code, according to RealtyTrac.
Patience and Pricing
Rumors about the difficulty of buying a foreclosed property may have scared some potential buyers away from foreclosures in the past.
However, Vivianne Couts, a Realtor at Coldwell Banker in Fairfax, said she didn’t think there was a stigma against buying properties that had been foreclosed on.
“I think neighbors are generally pleased when someone buys a foreclosure, as they’ll probably take better care of the property then the prior owner did,” she said.
She did admit that many buyers assume foreclosures are in bad shape, but that most foreclosures these days are in relatively good condition.
“The banks will frequently reimburse the Realtors for their repair costs,” she said. “Banks are like any other seller. They know it will sell for more if the house looks decent.”
The average price of a foreclosed home in Fairfax County in late March was about $321,000. That’s more than both Virginia and the nation’s average prices, which were $243,772 and $165,321 respectively.
Virginia’s foreclosure situation has seen little movement since this time in 2011, according to the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA)—a problem unlikely to change significantly until Virginia sees a drop in unemployment and household debt, and a rise in incomes.
Virginia’s foreclosure prevention website reports that when foreclosed properties are sold, the borrowers’ loans have been delinquent for about 117 days, or four months.
The hardest part about buying a property that has been foreclosed on is being patient, Couts said. “Frequently, the bank will give a verbal reply, and then send the contract addendums to the buyer later,” she said in an email to Patch. “However, a verbal reply is not binding, so in the time the buyer is waiting for the paperwork, the bank can legally accept another offer.”
The foreclosed properties that have sold so far this year have been on the market for an average of 65 days, Couts said, pointing out that the number was slightly skewed.
“It should be lower, because it takes the banks a few days to reply to an offer, but they have to keep the property listed as active while they do their paperwork.”
The Fairfax County government website has a variety of resources for homeowners facing difficulties paying their mortgage, including a list of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved counseling agencies and information on foreclosure prevention.