1 Foreclosure, 2 Foreclosure, 3 Foreclosure, 4…

This past Sunday there were 36 foreclosures advertised in the Hartford Courant. A few months ago there would only be one page of foreclosures advertised. Now we’re up to 3-4 pages of foreclosures every Sunday. This week, one of them was on my block in the West End.

The sign went up on the lawn 2 weeks ago. After it was listed in the Courant, I had 3 people call me to ask how they could go about purchasing the house. Here was my quick and dirty response… First, you should call the attorney managing the sale. They will give you specifics on how much debt is outstanding on the property (that they actually know about). The bank has also done an appraisal and you’ll need to bring a bank check to the auction in order to participate. The check is for 10% of the appraised value, or about $45,000 in the case of the subject house. There is no mortgage contingency allowed, so you need to have your money lined up if you were to actually win the auction, otherwise you can lose your deposit if for some reason you couldn’t secure a mortgage (the $45,000). Essentially, you have to be a cash buyer. There is no guarantee that you will actually be able to get into the house on the day of the auction in order to perform an inspection, so you may be buying the house blind. Who knows what the condition will be on the inside?

The takeaways from my mini-lesson: you need to have cash readily available in order to participate, you’d better be handy or have a contractor in your back pocket because the property may be a mess on the inside, and you need to have a market analysis done before the auction to understand what you’re willing to pay and the actual value of the property (the bank’s appraisal isn’t always accurate).

Everyone is fascinated with foreclosures now and think they’re a great way to make a quick buck. My advice, leave them to the savvy investors or contractors. But if it’s something you want to try and get into, here’s an excellent article from the New York Times that talks about someone that does short sales as their business. I personally hope my neighbor can save his house before it goes to auction.

Huh? Local Condo Sales Down, But Prices are Up?

There was an interesting article published in the Hartford Business Journal yesterday regarding local condo sales. For the first six months of this year, condo sales are off by more than 16% in Hartford County compared to 2006. However, the median price is up 1.5% over 2006. Huh? With more inventory sitting out there longer, why aren’t buyers paying less?

My guess is that we are talking median sales price vs. mean sales price. I ran a quick MLS search, and if you compare condo sales prices for the first half of 2006 to the first half of 2007 in Hartford County, the average (mean) sales price is down .5% in 2007. By using the median measurement (half the values below the middle point and half above the middle point), you are able to paint a positive picture.

Moral of this story: always question statistics because they can almost always be spun in a positive or negative light… And if you’re a condo buyer right now, you should have some leverage negotiating a better price. There’s a lot of inventory out there to choose from and sellers are sitting on their condos longer.

Discover Farmington Avenue- Saturday June 9

“DISCOVER THE AVENUE” is on Saturday, June 9th, 12-5pm, rain or shine, on Farmington Avenue in Hartford. This street festival is sponsored by the Farmington Avenue Alliance and celebrates the arts, culture, architecture, and history of our Farmington Avenue neighborhood. There will be trolley rides, activities at the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, music at the corner of Girard and Farmington Avenues, architectural walks in the neighborhood, an exploration of the Park River, artists exhibiting their work for sale, clowns, plein air artists painting neighborhood sites, and more. Here’s an outline of the events:

MAIN EVENTS
Noon to 5:00PM
Harriet Beecher Stowe Birthday Celebration
Location: Forest & Farmington

Nook Farm Green Arts & Crafts Show & Music
Location: Farmington & Woodland

Corner of Girard/Farmington
Swing to gospel, soul, R & B, and reggae in an afternoon of music sponsored by West End Civic Association featuring Tony Harrington, Precise and local performers.

TOURS
Hartford Preservation Alliance Walking Tours
Meet at Nook Farm Green, Farmington & Woodland
12 noon – Nook Farm
1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Park River
4 p.m. Asylum Hill (Woodland/Niles)

Immanuel Church
Location: Farmington & Woodland
Sanctuary open all afternoon, organ and bell ringing demonstrations

MUSIC
Stowe Center
Strolling musicians, drumming, community choirs

Nook Farm Green
America’s Music…Celtic Roots. The Boys of Wexford featuring P.V. O’Donnell, fiddle, John Taub, accordion, Paul Recker, “Old Time
Country,” Claudine Langille, banjo and mandolin.

Immanuel Church
Organ

Corner of Girard/Farmington
Tony Harrington, featured vocalist. Gospel, soul, R & B, and reggae

The Hartford Insurance Group
10-piece salsa band, Mikata

ART/DANCE
Art and crafts for show and display at Nook Farm Green.
Clowns, mimes, street entertainers, Praise Dancers at the West End Community Center.
International art exhibit at The Hartford, with salsa band and free dance lessons.

KIDS’ ACTIVITIES
West End Community Center
Location: 461 Farmington Ave.
Children’s Playscape, face painting, water balloons games, pony rides.

Stowe Center
Carriage rides, hat decorating, drumming, lawn croquet

Nook Farm Green
Bead table

Immanuel Church
Face painting

Noah Webster School
Location: 5 Cone Street
June Fair – games for young children

FOOD
Refreshments at Stowe Center, Mark Twain House café, Nook Farm Green, West End Community Center, avenue restaurants.

GETTING AROUND-FREE
Trolley – 8 stops runs all day
CT Transit bus – no fare with day pass (at information table, Nook Farm Green)
Walking – all Farmington Ave events are within 6 blocks

PARKING
All legal spaces on street
Clemens Place (enter Mark Twain
House driveway on Farmington Ave.)
Sherman Street – UConn Law School
Sherman Street – Hartford Seminary
Forest Street – lots with signs
Woodland Street – lots with signs
Farmington & Kenyon – Kinko’s lot (aka West End Plaza)