Trulia Real Estate Blog

articles about “Foreclosures

Trulia’s Real Estate Crystal Ball for 2012

As we wrap up 2011, Trulia’s Chief Economist looks ahead at what’s in store for the battered housing market and which cities have a big reason to celebrate the New Year.

My crystal ball is never as crystal-clear as I’d like, but I do think that we can expect a gradual economic recovery to move the housing market a few steps back toward normal in 2012. Even so, we still have a long ways to go. As we exit 2011, prices still not have rebounded after their huge declines, inventories are still well above normal, and the foreclosure rate is still far higher than before the bubble. Even the best possible 2012 won’t get us halfway back toward normal.

Before getting into the predictions, let me be upfront about what I’m assuming. After 14 months of job gains, I expect the economy to continue its slow but determined recovery. I don’t do my own macroeconomic forecasts, but every single one of the fifty-ish economic forecasters surveyed by the Wall Street Journal expects the economy to grow throughout 2012, and that makes sense to me. Of course, any unexpected severe political or financial crisis could tip us back into recession, and then all bets are off. Here’s to hoping that doesn’t happen.

My five predictions for housing in 2012:

1)  Delinquencies will go down, but foreclosures will go up. Fewer borrowers will fall behind on their payments next year, thanks to the strengthening economy and refinancings. The share of delinquent borrowers is already down more than a quarter from the peak a couple of years ago. But many borrowers who fell behind on their payments during the housing crisis are still in limbo: last year’s robo-signing controversy threw a wrench in the gears of the foreclosure process. That means that some delinquent loans haven’t yet entered the foreclosure process, and even fewer moved all the way through foreclosure — especially in Florida and other states where foreclosures require a longer legal process. Once a settlement is reached with banks over robo-signing in those states, we’ll see a new wave of foreclosures and foreclosure sales that’s long overdue. It’s a necessary step in getting the housing market back to normal even though it will be painful for people who lose their homes — and will rattle American’s confidence in the housing recovery.

2)  Rents will rise – which is a bad thing. With fewer people buying homes and more people losing their homes to foreclosures, the rental market is only going to get tighter especially in older, dense cities like New York, Washington DC and San Francisco. High rents will hold back economic growth if businesses can’t pay workers enough to have a roof over their heads. Squeezed city-dwellers won’t get relief until late 2012: that’s when a wave of new multi-unit construction projects that started late this year will be completed and available for rent. To tackle growth-killing high living costs in the priciest cities head on, local governments need to get rid of height restrictions and arduous permitting processes, which hold back urban construction and push development to the suburbs.

3)  Mortgage rates will inch up – which will probably be a good thing. A stronger economy will push Treasury bonds and mortgage rates up because inflation becomes more likely and investors demand higher rates to hold bonds. The Fed’s “Operation Twist” will prevent rates from rising too much, but other forces could push rates up higher or, alternatively, send them falling. If investors think the U.S. government will have trouble paying its debt – which they might if the government can’t agree to raise the debt ceiling or narrow the deficit — they’ll demand higher rates because of that risk; but global economic uncertainty – even here at home — could lower American interest rates if investors think American bonds are safe relative to other investments. Got whiplash yet? You’re forgiven. Lots of factors can push rates up or down. For the housing market, which direction rates go is less important than why. Gradual economic recovery is good news for the housing market even if it means higher mortgage rates – that’s what I think will win out next year. We’ll have higher rates for a reason we can cheer.

4)  Government will sit on its hands. In election years, politicians don’t take risks: they’re more talk and less action, so don’t expect any bold housing policy reforms next year. What’s more, with the housing market now recovering, we’re not in enough of a crisis to force political opponents together. The time has passed for bold government action on housing. We’ll look back wistfully on the modest policy wins of 2011: borrowers who’ve kept up their payments can now refinance under the expanded HARP program, and the government is planning ways to sell or rent out vacant homes it owns (which will probably be announced in early 2012). But these targeted policies won’t move the needle on national foreclosures, sales or prices.

5)  Smart cities are hot. In 2012, the local housing markets that will enjoy rising prices, new construction or both, are those that start the year with stronger job growth and fewer empty homes holding back the market. Based on these factors, along with other leading indicators, here are my top five cities to watch:

Austin, TX, and Houston, TX. The bloom’s not off the yellow rose of Texas. Steady job growth and a construction revival make Austin and Houston two of my five cities to watch. Texas isn’t hung over from the housing boom like the other big states of the South and West, so there’s little to hold back growth. Honorable mention to Fort Worth and San Antonio.

San Jose, CA. Wasn’t California at the center of the foreclosure crisis? Didn’t prices there fall more than everywhere else in the country? Yup. But there’s no such thing as the California housing market: California is almost as diverse as the U.S. Even though prices plummeted and foreclosures skyrocketed in inland California, the coast is another world. San Jose’s perennially tight housing market makes it faster to bounce back. The San Jose market –which includes most of Silicon Valley – has rapid job growth and the lowest vacancy rate in the country.

Suburbs of Boston, MA. This CambridgeNewtonFramingham market just west of Boston has a strong jobs engine and, like most of New England, missed the worst of the housing bubble. Honorable mention goes to Worcester, one step further west, and Boston’s northern suburbs around Peabody. These areas all benefit from offering more bang for the buck than crowded, expensive Boston: this is because most people looking to move are searching in more suburban or smaller areas than where they live now.

Rochester, NY. That’s my hometown, and knowing what’s happened to Kodak and other pillars of the local economy, I was surprised when Rochester scored on the top 5 list. (I applied the same formula to all cities and did not have my thumb on the scale.) Prices – which fell little during the boom – are stable, and the economy has weathered blow after blow and is expanding.

What do these markets have in common? Three – Austin, San Jose, and the area west of Boston – are technology centers. In those three metros, as well as in Rochester, a center of high-skill manufacturing industries, education levels are well above the national average. As the recovery proceeds, smart cities are leading the way. During the housing boom, the go-go cities tended to be lower-skill, lower-education metros. But in 2012, smart is hot: it’ll be the revenge of the nerds.

Links to Trulia Insights blog posts:

Jobs Report Bodes Well for Housing

Asking What Our Country Can Do For Housing

Where Construction Activity is Rumbling

The Federal Government’s Re-Fi Plan: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Renting Out Government-Owned Homes is the Right Move – But Probably Wouldn’t Make Any Difference to You

Where Vacancies are High


January 2011’s Top 10 Movers n’ Shakers

February 7, 2011

When we’re not busy innovating cool products for you, we’re looking at our data for interesting real estate trends. This month, we looked at the 200 most popular cities for real estate searches on in January and compared that list to January 2010. Needless to say, we’ve got news to share.

Top 10 Movers n’ Shakers:



Maricopa, AZ



Grand Rapids, MI



Myrtle Beach, SC



Palm Bay, FL



Coral Springs, FL



Malibu, CA



Sterling Heights, MI



Ocala, FL



Mesa, AZ



North Port, FL




Queens, NY



Bethesda, MD



Washington, DC



Arlington, VA



Queen Creek, AZ



Jersey City, NJ



Alexandria, VA



Silver Spring, MD



Hoboken, NJ



Staten Island, NY


Just looking at the top 10 cities, we noticed that interest in real estate is rising in hard hit foreclosure states – especially in Arizona and Florida. In Arizona, Maricopa leads the pack with a 73% increase, followed by Mesa, which grew by 52%. Meanwhile, in Florida, four cities experienced the biggest increase, including Palm Bay and Coral Springs. Each saw a 61% increase year-over-year.

Of the 10 cities where interest in real estate dipped, most were suburbs around larger cities. Nearly half of the cities on the list are suburbs of Washington D.C. and almost a third are in New York City. Queens and Bethesda are heading it with a 69% and 45% decline, respectively. Change is happening, so stay tuned to see what happens in February!

Feel free to check out the methodology below.


Trulia calculated the most popular real estate searches for the top 200 locations in January 2011 by comparing city property views per total property views and comparing it to the same 200 locations in January 2010.

Sample calculation:

City: Emerald City, OZ

January 2010:

  • Emerald City property views: 100
  • Total January property views: 5,000
  • Share of Voice: 100/ 5,000 = 2%

January 2011:

  • Emerald City property views: 2,000
  • Total January property views: 20,000
  • Share of Voice: 2000/ 40,000 = 5%

Change in share of voice: (5%-2%)/2% = 150%


Trulia Trends Relaunches

Looking for real estate data? Check out the Trulia Trends section of our News Room – this is where we’ll be releasing and archiving all our industry data reports and consumer opinion surveys going forward.

Speaking of which, we’ve revamped our data program to kickoff 2011 with a fresh start. Our Rent vs. Buy Index and Price Reduction Report will now be issued on a quarterly basis while the results of our biannual American Dream Survey and Foreclosure Survey will continue to be released during our quarterly industry conference calls. Here’s the full schedule:

2011 Trulia Data Report Schedule


Trulia’s Rent vs. Buy Index Reveals Top 10 Cities For Renting, Owning Homes

October 8, 2010

trulia-rvbCheck out the results from Trulia’s Rent vs. Buy Index, which tracks whether buying a home or renting is less expensive in America’s 50 largest cities, based on current market conditions. Making sure it was an apples to apples comparison, we calculated the price-to-rent ratio using the average list price compared with the average rent of two-bedroom apartments, condos and townhomes listed on To create the list, Trulia analyzed the largest 50 U.S. cities by population.

High foreclosure rates, falling home prices and widespread unemployment have led to multiple Florida and Arizona cities reporting homeownership as more affordable than renting; Detroit and Columbus also made the list of Top 10 Cities for homeownership affordability compared with renting for similar reasons. On the other end of the affordability spectrum, owning is significantly more expensive than renting in national and regional job centers like New York, Omaha and Seattle.

“Higher prices of homeownership in cities like Omaha and Seattle reflect the fundamental real estate truth that people want to live where jobs are relatively plentiful,” said Tara-Nicholle Nelson, consumer educator, Trulia. “Workforce demand has kept prices in these cities at a higher level, relative to other large American cities with less healthy job markets – Omaha, for example, has reported unemployment rates significantly lower than national averages.”

The Lone Star State reported interesting complexities with regard to statewide figures for the relative affordability of homeownership, as four Texas cities fell within the top 20 cities where owning is more affordable than renting. In fact, Arlington topped the list of large American cities in which buying is more affordable than renting; El Paso wasn’t far behind at number nine. However, Fort Worth ranked as the nation’s third most rent-favorable city. Rent vs. Buy Index – Interpretation Key
Price-to-Rent Ratio of 1-15: It is much less expensive to own than to rent a home in this city.
Price-to-Rent Ratio of 16-20: It is more expensive to own a home in this city. The total costs of ownership of a home in this city are greater than the costs of renting, but it might still make financial sense depending on the situation.
Price-to-Rent Ratio of 21+: The total costs of owning a home in this city are much greater than the costs of renting.

Top 10 Cities to Rent vs. Buy


Top 10 Cities to Buy vs. Rent


Download the graphic for above data chart here.

To see how the largest 50 cities in America ranked on this month’s rent vs. buy index, click here.


Trulia calculates the price-to-rent ratio for the 50 largest U.S. cities using the average list price compared with the average rent on two-bedroom apartments, condos, townhomes and co-ops listed on This Index considers both the total cost of home ownership against the total costs of renting (examples of costs for both home ownership and renting outlined below).

Sample Price-to-Rent Ratio Calculation:

Average List Price: $90,445.60

Average Rent: $936.30

Price-to-rent ratio: $90,445.60 ÷ ($936.30 x 12) = 8.05

Total costs of home ownership include
mortgage principal and interest, property taxes, hazard insurance, closing costs at time of purchase and ongoing HOA dues and private mortgage insurance, where applicable. Total costs of homeownership include an offset for the tax advantages of homeownership, including mortgage interest, property tax and closing cost deductions.

Total costs of renting include rent and renter’s insurance.


Trulia RealtyTrac Survey: American Attitudes Towards Foreclosure

May 20, 2010

Abandoned Creative Commons License photo credit: James Jordan

Today, and RealtyTrac released the latest results of an ongoing survey tracking home buyers’ attitudes towards foreclosures. The new online survey conducted on their behalf from May 10-12, 2010 by Harris Interactive® showed a notable decrease in consumers’ willingness to buy foreclosed properties compared to one year ago.  Currently, 45 percent of U.S. adults age 18 and above are at least somewhat likely to consider purchasing a foreclosed home in the future, compared to the 55 percent of U.S. adults age 18 and above surveyed online by Harris Interactive® between May 1-5, 2009.

Underwater and Walking Away

Only 1 percent of homeowners with a mortgage say walking away from their home would be their first choice if they were unable to pay their mortgage.  If their mortgage were to go “underwater,” 41 percent would at least consider walking away, while 59 percent would not consider walking away no matter how much their mortgage was underwater.

“For every borrower who avoided foreclosure through HAMP last year, another 10 families lost their homes. It now seems clear that government programs will not reach the overwhelming majority of homeowners in trouble,” said Trulia’s co-founder and CEO Pete Flint.  “Combined with decreased consumer interest around purchasing a foreclosure it may take even longer than anticipated to see true health return to the real estate market.”

The Bank-Owned Discount

18 percent of U.S. adults expect bank-owned homes to offer a realistic price discount of less than 25 percent off the value of a similar home that was not in foreclosure. However, not all consumers have realistic expectations, with 36 percent saying that they expect to receive a discount of 50 percent or more when purchasing a bank-owned property.  Most consumers (95 percent) would expect to pay less for a foreclosed home than for a similar home for sale that is not in foreclosure.


Negative Stigma to Buying a Foreclosure

The current survey found lower levels of negative sentiment towards purchasing foreclosed properties than one year ago, with 78 percent of U.S. adults believing there are downsides to buying foreclosed properties compared to 85 percent in May 2009. Among those who think there are negative aspects to purchasing a foreclosed home, the top concerns about purchasing a foreclosed property between May 2010 and May 2009 include:

Negative Sentiment

May 2010

May 2009

Hidden Costs

68 percent

71 percent

Process is risky

49 percent

46 percent

Home will lose value

35 percent

31 percent

“Although fewer consumers expressed interest in buying a foreclosed home than a year ago, the actual sales of bank-owned properties (REOs), along with sales of properties in the foreclosure process, continue to increase – accounting for more than 30 percent of total sales in the first quarter of 2010 according to our data,” said Rick Sharga, senior vice president for RealtyTrac. “We anticipate that there will be an increased number of both REO purchases and short sales throughout the rest of the year as the most active buying segments – first time home buyers and investors – continue to look for bargains.”

“It appears that potential homebuyers are taking a more realistic view of foreclosure purchasing,” Sharga continued. “Buying a foreclosure property still provides an opportunity for dramatic savings on a home, but the time and effort involved in executing a short sale, bidding against other buyers for an REO, or the need to do renovations may be issues for buyers not as focused on getting the best price.”

Renovations and Remodeling

The majority of U.S. adults (92 percent) said they would be willing to invest in improvements such as renovations and remodeling if they purchased a foreclosed home.  Of those consumers who would be willing to invest in improvements, 65 percent would be willing to invest 20 percent or less of the purchase price to upgrade the property and make it their own.


Renters are showing strong interest in buying foreclosed properties, with 57 percent at least somewhat likely to purchase a foreclosed home in the future. In comparison, only 40 percent of current homeowners would consider buying a foreclosure in the future.  Additionally, the likelihood to consider purchasing a foreclosure decreases with age: 65 percent of renters ages 18-34, 63 percent of renters between the ages of 35-44, and 54 percent of renters ages 45-54 are at least somewhat likely to consider purchasing a foreclosure, compared to only 31 percent of renters 55 years and older.

Uses for Foreclosure Purchase

Among U.S. adults at least somewhat likely to purchase a foreclosed home, 62 percent said they would use the property for their personal primary residence, 19 percent said they would use it as a rental investment, 8 percent said they would use it as a second home or vacation home, and 6 percent said they would buy and quickly resell (or flip). Renters were more likely to say they would purchase a foreclosed property as a primary personal residence (83 percent), while more than half of homeowners (51 percent) said they would purchase a foreclosed property for a use other than a personal primary residence.

To listen to a replay of Pete Flint and Rick Sharga discussing the results of the survey and other insights into the real estate market, click here.

Highlights from Pete Flint and Rick Sharga conference call:
•    Pete Flint: 59% of foreclosure survey respondents wouldn’t consider walking away from mortgage no matter what
•    Pete Flint: For every borrower who avoided foreclosure through HAMP last year, another 10 families lost their homes
•    Pete Flint: US adults are less skeptical about buying foreclosures and more realistic about the discount they can expect than
•    Rick Sharga: Realty Trac projecting 2011 as peak in overall foreclosure activity
•    Pete Flint, on the impact of homebuyer tax credit: No transactional data yet, but did see significant rise in home searches before the credit expired.  Credit did have benefit of helping to stabilize prices, but will have to wait and see full impact
•    Rick Sharga: Don’t believe seeing an increase in new delinquencies, but the people in serious delinquencies not going down
•    Rick Sharga: Lenders are delaying foreclosure sales, the system is slowing down to manage bank inventory levels
•    Rick Sharga: Seeing more recovery in metropolitan markets with foreign buyers purchasing more homes

For an infographic illustrating the results of this survey in a visual format,

For more information about Trulia or to experience the power of a Trulia search, please visit

For more information about RealtyTrac and to access its nationwide foreclosure data, please visit

This May 2010 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive via its QuickQuery(SM) online omnibus service on behalf of Trulia between May 10-12, 2010 among 2,596 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older. The sample included 1,690 homeowners, 1,137 of whom currently have a mortgage, and 832 renters. The May 2009 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive via its QuickQuery(SM) online omnibus service on behalf of Trulia between May 1-5, 2009 among 2,397 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older.  Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Ken Shuman.

About Trulia, Inc. is the most comprehensive real estate site focused on empowering you with smarter tools to help you find the right home. Whether you are an active buyer, seller or real estate enthusiast, Trulia gives you all the information you care about from rich property data to a personalized search experience.  We are focused on helping you find the home that truly meets your needs, and delivers on what’s most important for you. Ultimately, we built a smart real estate search experience bringing together local information, community insights, market data and national listings all in one place, all for you.

About RealtyTrac Inc.

RealtyTrac ( is the leading online marketplace of foreclosure properties, with more than 1.5 million default, auction and bank-owned listings from over 2,200 U.S. counties, along with detailed property, loan and home sales data. Hosting more than 3 million unique monthly visitors, RealtyTrac provides innovative technology solutions and practical education resources to facilitate buying, selling and investing in real estate. RealtyTrac’s foreclosure data has also been used by the Federal Reserve, FBI, U.S. Senate Joint Economic Committee and Banking Committee, U.S. Treasury Department, and numerous state housing and banking departments to help evaluate foreclosure trends and address policy issues related to foreclosures.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit

View the LIVE stream here:

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To listen to the Conference Call, please click this link. It will be available for download over the next 14 days.


Trulia’s Heather Fernandez on The Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch

June 5, 2009

Heather Fernandez
, VP of Marketing at Trulia, met with Jonathan Burton of Marketwatch and talked about our recently released June price reduction study and how homes are still not priced to sell.

Video takeaways and observations:

1. Nationally, $27.4 billion dollars have been cut from asking prices between June 1st, 2008 and and June 1st, 2009
2. 1 of 4 homes has had a price reduction
3. On average home prices have been cut 10%
4. Foreclosures are putting pressure on asking prices of non-foreclosed homes
5. Better to price your home right from the start
6. One major price reduction better than multiple smaller price reductions – multiple reductions can give buyers perception that home is “damaged goods” per se – sellers can loose leverage with multiple cuts
7. Buyers, see if you qualify for 1st time home buyer tax credits
8. Talk to your lender about your financial situation, credit and purchasing power
9. Utilize sites like Trulia and do research- take your time and make informed decisions
10. Negotiation strategies – be patient – plenty of inventory to choose from


Video – Trulia CEO Pete Flint on Forbes – Economy Down-Traffic Up

May 29, 2009

Trulia CEO Pete Flint talks about how consumers are looking for more detailed home, neighborhood and local real estate market information on real estate sites like Trulia and are flocking to the web in record numbers.

Approximately 50% of recent transactions are from first time home buyers. Higher inventory and lower prices are driving more interest form this first time home buyer pool who were once pushed out because of higher home prices.

Trulia offers some amazing home buying tools for consumers:

Real Estate Search
Price Reduction tool
CompareIt! – Side-by-side Home comparison
Property Profiles
Stats and Trends
GPS enabled iPhone app – great for Open House Search
Trulia Voices Real Estate Social Networking Community– Where home buyers, sellers and agents connect
and more…..

Thanks Forbes!


Trulia CEO Pete Flint on CNBC Talking about Increased Home Buyer Interest in Foreclosures

May 20, 2009

Trulia’s CEO Pete Flint did a great job today on CNBC talking about foreclosures and first time home buyers.

Good news: According to our new national Trulia/Realty Trac Harris survey, there has been an increase in home buyer interest in Foreclosures. Many are first time home buyers making the leap into the housing market as prices become more affordable. Approximately 55% of adults surveyed said they are at least somewhat likely to consider buying a foreclosed home in the future. That’s up from 47% last November. 40% say they expect to get a 50% discount on a foreclosure.

If you’re interested in buying a foreclosure or other type of distressed property, it’s very important that you work with a foreclosure or short sale specialist. There can be many complications during these transactions and a real estate professional who has experience in this process is invaluable. Our survey showed that consumer sentiment about the downsides of foreclosures are up.

Three of the top points being:
Hidden Costs
Risky/Lengthy Process
Falling home Prices

Please check out the video for more details.

1 comment

Freddie Mac Video – Making Home Affordable and Avoiding Foreclosure Rescue Scams

May 12, 2009

According to Freddie Mac:

A report from the fourth quarter of 2008 shows that a growing number of homeowners are seeking lower mortgage payments through loan modification programs and mortgage refinancing.

In an effort to stabilize the housing market and help millions of American homeowners reduce their monthly mortgage payments, the federal government has launched “Making Home Affordable.” A new effort with Freddie Mac, this program offers some of the most aggressive refinancing and loan workout opportunities for financially strapped borrowers to date.


Thank You Voices Community…

This morning, the CBS Early Show ran a segment on families that have recently purchased foreclosed homes and secured great deals. Two of the families were found through Trulia Voices and one of the families featured is an actual Trulia employee. I’d like to personally thank The Shane Family, Kim Deiser and her agent Marita Topmiller and the Donaldson family for sharing their stories with us and with all of America.

Watch CBS Videos Online

I’d also like to thank to Vera Gibbons, of Kiplingers for pointing to features on Trulia that can help consumers in their search for the perfect, affordable home. Vera mentioned our CompareIt! tool that allows you to look at similar homes side by side. I’d also like to point to a few other features that can help consumers.

On the homepage, users can see recently reduced homes in the areas they are searching. Email alerts is another product feature that can aid in your search. If you are looking to find a home at a great value you can get emails every time a home is sold in the area that you are looking to buy and you can get emails every time a home goes on the market. This way you can find good deals as they pop up.

As more media opportunities exist, I will continue to use our community to find examples and get folks involved.  Please continue to share your stories online, blog about your success and share tips with our members.