Foreclosure Sales, Cheap Houses Becoming Florida Attractions

by Simon Lindsay on States

Foreclosure sales, cheap houses in Florida are turning into tourist attractions as innovative real estate brokers use tourist buses to take prospective home buyers and journalists around cheap foreclosure houses.

Brokers are showing higher-priced homes that are now being sold off at almost one-fourth of their previous price levels. One example is a palm-tree-lined waterfront stucco house which was bought at $850,000 in 2005 and now being sold off at only $273,000.

Large houses with granite countertops, swimming pools and jacuzzis are being shown off as specimens of the housing meltdown and the resulting foreclosure crisis.

In Fort Myers and Cape Coral, among cities in Florida where the foreclosure wave had done the most damage in the state, home values have plunged so low that around 75 percent of all home sales since 2007 have been foreclosure sales or short sales.

Frank Cassidy, head of the city code enforcement division of Cape Coral, uses a satellite map to monitor foreclosures across the city and to show observers how foreclosure homes are spread out across communities. In Cape Coral, based on Cassidy’s map, colored dots represent 64,571 single-family houses in the city and out of these dots, there are 18,575 red dots representing foreclosure sales, cheap houses.

Kristy Clifton, member of the city’s code enforcement team, said that her work is to check foreclosed houses in the northwestern part of Cape Coral. She relates that each foreclosure house shows how the frenzy of borrowing during the housing boom has affected the lives of families and children as shown in family pictures, cribs and toys in the abandoned properties.

According to analysts, housing crash in Florida, just like in other states, was precipitated largely by the frenzy of building properties for people dreaming of the waterfront lifestyle, of borrowing to buy bigger homes as lenders easily made loans to almost anyone and of speculating and flipping with expectations of endless home price increases and easy profits.

By the last months of 2007, the median sales price for homes in Cape Coral and other places in Lee County fell to around $215,000 from the 2005 peak price of $278,000. By October last year, the median sales price had plunged to around $92,000.

According to Marc Joseph, one of the enterprising real estate agents using tourist buses to show off homes, opportunities of foreclosure sales, cheap houses about in Florida, especially in Cape Coral and Fort Myers.