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Foreclosure Tours Take Off

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Foreclosure tours take off

By Barbara E. Hernandez

CONTRA COSTA TIMES

Article Launched: 03/20/2008 04:29:21 PM PDT

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A passenger steps aboard the Repo Home Tour bus in Stockton. Operated by Cesar Dias of Approved...«12345»

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STOCKTON — For some, foreclosed homes may be the embodiment of broken dreams, but for others they can be a sign of hope.

Leala Jammer, 29, of Stockton, went on a foreclosed home tour on a recent Saturday along with 20 other first-time home buyers and investors to looking at 10 bank-owned homes in two hours. She's hoping to find her first house.

She said she and her husband were priced out in the last few years and are hoping for something within their means.

"It's terrible right now," Jammer said. "But I'm so happy because now's the time for new homeowners to get into the market."

Cesar Dias' entrepreneurial spirit is catching fire. Dias, whose brainchild was the Repo Home Tour in

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foreclosure-struck Stockton, is now being copied from Boston to the Bay Area.

Dias, who started the tour last September with one bus, now has three with two trips scheduled each Saturday from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. usually with around 10 properties to view. Dias, a Realtor and loan agent with Approved Financial & Real Estate Center in downtown Stockton, said the movement on properties each week varies, but recently there were three offers made on the homes people saw on the tour. "I'm not saying they all got accepted," he said. "But the next week, we see a lot of repeat clients."

Rande and Tracy Ross, a married couple also from Stockton, came on the tour to look at possible investment properties, mainly to rent out.

"We

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would like to rent out to a family that needs a place to live," Tracy, 37, said. "It makes you sad. So many people got into these bad loans because they listened to their agents or mortgage brokers. They thought they were experts."

The Rosses paid more than $400,000 for their home in 2005, and were going to look at foreclosures in their own neighborhood, priced less than $300,000.

"On one hand, you say, 'Oh, my God!' but on the other hand, this could be a good market for buying," she said.

Bill and Darlene Reuss, from Redwood City, were on the tour to look for a second home. With a daughter and grandchildren already living in Stockton, it could possibly be a retirement home, Darlene Reuss said.

She said she saw the foreclosure tour on "60 Minutes" and decided to call and invest in a home. "Real estate is something real that you can use, it's not just a piece of paper," she said.

Other foreclosure tours have sprung up after Dias' success was broadcast on both national and cable news channels. Now the tours are staples in Florida, Michigan, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas, San Diego and the Bay Area, including "Foreclosure Finder Tours" in Brentwood.

"We started doing this three months ago in December," said John Case, an associate broker with Intero Real Estate Services "' Delta Communities in Brentwood. "Nobody wants to waste time, money and gasoline. We can get into a home they may not be able to get into without an agent."

Case said that the tour, usually of about 10 properties, covers most of East Contra Costa County's communities including Antioch, Brentwood, Discovery Bay, Oakley and Pittsburg. About three brokers and eight agents are involved and many accompany the tour.

Case said that while there are investors, most of those riding in the vans are first-time home buyers looking for a home.

"The overwhelming interest is in Brentwood, probably because it has taken the biggest hit in price," he said.

Coldwell Banker Fremont and Coldwell Banker Pleasanton began arranging private tours of bank-owned properties last month, but won't be colorfully wrapping a bus, said Will Butler, managing broker. He said their tour is not that popular yet.

"We're not seeing people living in Fremont running to buy a bank-owned property in Tracy," Butler said. "They want to find a place in Fremont that's a great deal."

He said that most interested buyers want amenities and a good bargain. Foreclosed homes are selling about 30 percent less than original asking price in the Tri-Valley and 35 percent lower in Fremont and Newark.

"That's what's attracting people, there are good prices," Butler said. "There are a lot to choose from, it's more or less trying to find the right one for them."

Greg Paquin, president of the Gregory Group, a real estate information and consulting company based in Folsom, said that these foreclosure tours are giving "exposure" to homes that may not otherwise make it to the general public.

"Many of these bank-owned homes can be purchased for less than the replacement costs," he said. "There is a sense that we may not be completely at the bottom, but maybe we're pretty darn close."

Paquin said that new home builders are probably the least affected by foreclosed properties. Buyers wanting a new home may not be tempted by a foreclosure and builders responded to the market by reducing inventory and construction, he said.

Tracy Ross said that Dias' Stockton tour was worth the time and was eager to see more opportunities to buy.

"I would like to see a couple more areas, maybe even the one in San Diego," she said. "We have family there."

Barbara E. Hernandez covers real estate. Reach her at 925-952-5063 or bhernandez@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read her Bay Area real estate blog, Property Lines, at www.ibabuzz.com/propertylines.

FORECLOSURE TOURS

For East Contra Costa County, contact Foreclosure Finder Tours at 888-560-TOUR or www.foreclosurefindertours.com.

For San Joaquin County, contact Repo Home Tour at 209-546-0281 or www.repohometour.com.

For Fremont, Newark and Union City, call Coldwell Banker Fremont at (510) 608-7600.

For Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and San Ramon, call 925-847-2200.

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In this country you are lucky if you can find out if a house is a Repro, they do thier best to keep it under wraps,unless you enquire or it goes to auction .

Maybe some EA with nothing to do could do a sideline in these trips.

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