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Companies promise quick sales but homeowners have to sell low

(EMAILWIRE.COM, August 17, 2007 ) Sacramento, CA -- As the housing market cools and foreclosures rise, it’s getting tougher to sell a home - even in the Boulder Valley.The average time to contract for local homes sales now stands at 60 to 90 days, up about 15 percent from a year ago. Foreclosure filings - through July 26 of this year - stand at 497, up about 11 percent from the same period in 2006.The days of the quick fix-and-flip bringing a sure profit are all but gone.An increasing number of companies and investors, however, are promising quick sales for those who need it desperately. In some cases, the home can be sold as quickly as three days.The catch - homeowners usually have to agree to a price tag below market value. Local housing officials warn that not every deal is sound.In the Boulder/Denver metro area, the franchise is one of several companies consumers see on billboards and in advertisements. The catch phrase particularly is appealing to those with homes in disrepair.Dallas-based HomeVestors of America Inc. operates the company, which has eight franchises in the Denver area. As a whole, the company said it bought its 30,000th home this July since opening in 1989.According to Becky Creighton, co-owner and president of the franchise in Denver, business is good.“It’s not harder to buy the houses, but it seems harder to sell them,” she said. “Typically the houses we buy are less than $275,000 once they’re fixed up.”In the most basic transaction, the franchise will make a deal with the homeowner to buy the house at a discount.“You will receive from us 8 to 10 percent below what you would get if you put in the repair costs to get it to market condition and listed it with a Realtor,” Creighton said.The compensation to the homeowner is a quick sale, no repair costs and leaving the risk of the home sale to the company. Closing costs are less on the seller’s end, and no Realtor commissions to cover.“We take on the homeowner’s risk,” Creighton said. “It’s a way for someone to walk away from the stress.”The franchise will spend money to fix the home and then try to sell it for a profit.Creighton’s business also will help homeowners work out a short sale with the bank if a person has little equity in the home or if the value of the home has dropped below the amount of the loan.In a short sale, the homeowner and company negotiate with the bank to reduce the loan amount in order for the bank to buy back the home and then sell it to the company.Creighton said her franchise is a gold star member of the Better Business Bureau, which means it hasn’t had a complaint filed for the past three years running. She opened her business in January 2003.“We don’t chase foreclosures,” she said. “We don’t go on the public trustee Web site and search for them.”That being said, a lot of business comes from people in foreclosure or near it. They see the billboards and call.People in trouble also are going online to find companies or investors to buy their homes. is another company that comes up on a common search.“Our focus is to use the Internet,” President Patrick McGilvray said. “When someone enters ’sell your house fast,’ we come up.” The California-based company does not send out e-mails or letters seeking sellers - it relies on its customers seeking buyers. It has been in business since June 2004.“We’ve gotten a lot of interest along the entire Front Range area,” he said. California, Nevada and Florida also top the list - the states, along with Colorado, struggling with high foreclosure is a little different than in that it acts as a matchmaker between home sellers and investors, rather than the company buying the property itself. It will refer home sellers to real estate agents if it thinks a short sale may be the best option.“We just make the connection,” McGilvray said. The company distributes its database of home sellers to investors who buy memberships starting at $500 a month. Sellers can also post open-to-the-public ads on the Web site for $10 a month if they want extra advertising.It is the investor’s responsibility to make contact with the home seller and work out a deal.Both McGilvray and Creighton admit that their businesses shouldn’t be the first call for those homeowners struggling to make loan payments. Both advised that homeowners should call their lenders first and try to work out agreements to help them stay in the home.Homeowners also need to decide whether they are looking for investors or counseling. The two are very different and are separated by law in Colorado. Investors must state upfront that their intention is to buy the home.If homeowners need counseling before or during the foreclosure process, the state recommends contacting the Colorado Housing Coalition at, or the Colorado Division of Housing’s foreclosure hotline at 1-877-601-4673.At the Boulder County Housing Authority, Coordinator of the Housing Counseling Program, said a person’s lender or counselor should always be the first call.“I think there are some companies and investors that can legitimately help people, but there are also a lot of predators and foreclosure scams out there,” Hudak said. “The thing is that people are in it to make money, and altruism can run thin these days.”Hudak couldn’t comment on either or, but said that as with any real estate deal, consumers should read the fine print and understand what they’re doing.All Housing and Urban Development-approved counseling services are free and unaffiliated with any business.“We don’t buy houses, but we can help you save yours,” Hudak said.Contact:http://www.TheHomeBuyingCenter.comTel: 1-888-444-BUYER###This press release was issued through GroupWeb EmailWire.Com. 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