How to Avoid Foreclosure: Steps You Can Take to Keep Your Home

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By Paul Hagey

There are many actions borrowers can take
before facing foreclosure. Many find solutions to their difficult situations by short-selling their homes or simply walking away, an option the Obama administration's Making Home Affordable program makes slightly easier by paying $3,000 to borrowers for relocation costs.

Those looking to avoid foreclosure have ample and growing resources, including:
  • The HUD website, which lists various options for different types of homeowners facing foreclosure.
  • The Federal Housing Authority (part of HUD).
  • The Obama administration's Making Home Affordable program, which includes HAMP, Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA).
Bank of America, among other banks, offers advice on its website for consumers seeking to avoid foreclosure.

If homeowners want to stay in their home, there are a variety of options, including: refinancing directly with the bank or with a program like HAMP, the Federal Housing Authority, or the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and payment forbearance; among several other options.

12 PHOTOS
10 Cities Getting Slammed by Foreclosures
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How to Avoid Foreclosure: Steps You Can Take to Keep Your Home

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +32%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 2,273
Unemployment: 7.6%
% home value down from peak: -12.42%

Columbus hit its median home value peak in the first quarter of 2006. Since that time, home values have declined a relatively modest 12.4%, including a 3.4% drop last year. By the second quarter of 2012, Fiserv projects that homes in the area will lose another 2.3% of their value. Median family income in Columbus is above the national average, and unemployment is just 8%, a full percentage point less than the national average. Despite the fact that things don’t look so bad for the Columbus housing market compared to other regions, the city foreclosure rate still increased by 32% last quarter. A total of 2,273 homes were foreclosed upon during that time.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Columbus, Ohio

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +35%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,743
Unemployment: 11.2%
% home value down from peak: -59.3%

There is arguably no single housing market with a worse long-term outlook than southwest Florida, and the Cape Coral-Fort Myers region is the worst of these. Housing prices in the have already dropped 59.3% from their peak, and Fiserv project them to decline another 12.2% by the second quarter of next year. According to Corelogic, 47% of the homes in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area are worth less than their mortgages because of declining values. Foreclosures have increased 35% in the last quarter, and with no sign of recovery in the immediate future that trend may worsen in the coming months.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Fort Myers, Fla.

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +36%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,348
Unemployment: 11%
% home value down from peak: -59.1%

As of last month, Vallejo-Fairfield had the second-highest foreclosure rate in the country, with one out of every 51 homes being foreclosed upon in the third quarter of this year. This was a 36% increase in foreclosures from the second quarter. Home values have dropped 7.5% in the past year and are projected by Fiserv to drop an additional 4.9% by the second quarter of 2012. A remarkable 53% of homes in the region are worth less than their mortgages. This is the seventh highest rate of homes with underwater mortgages in the country.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Fairfield, Calif.

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +41%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 2,174
Unemployment: 14.9%
% home value down from peak: -54%

Fresno’s economy has continued to suffer since housing prices began to drop in 2006. It currently has an unemployment rate of 14.9%, which is one of the highest in the country. Home prices peaked in the first quarter of 2006 and have been decreasing since. The metropolitan area also has one of the highest underwater mortgage rates in the country, with a negative equity share of nearly 46%. In the last year alone home prices have dropped 11%.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Fresno, Calif.

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +44%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,039
Unemployment: 11.6%
% home value down from peak: -53.4%

More than 1,000 homes were foreclosed upon in the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville region last quarter, a 44% increase from the previous three-month period. Nearly half of the region’s homes are worth less than their mortgages. With Fiserv projecting home values would drop 7.1% by next year and another 4.9% the year after that, things may just get even worse.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Titusville, Fla.

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +49%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 2,559
Unemployment: 9.5%
% home value down from peak: -39.3%

Jacksonville has experienced a quarterly increase in foreclosures of nearly 50%. Home prices have dropped 39.1% since their peak in the second quarter of 2006. The metropolitan area’s negative equity share also exceeds 46%, making it among the worst in the country for underwater mortgages. Home prices are expected to decrease another 10.7% by the second quarter of 2012.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Jacksonville, Fla.

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +55%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,956
Unemployment: 8.7%
% home value down from peak: -15.9%

Nearly 2,000 homes were foreclosed upon during the last quarter, a 55% increase from the previous three months. Unlike many of the regions on this list with accelerating home foreclures, Cincinnati’s local economy is doing fairly well. Home prices are only down 15.9% from their peak in the first quarter of 2006. Unemployment and median family income are both better than average. One possible explanation for this recent increase may be that nearly a third of the total decline in home value since the peak has occurred in the past 12 months.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Cincinnati, Ohio

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +57%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,673
Unemployment: 11%
% home value down from peak: -51.4%

The Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice metropolitan area has seen the third largest increase in the country in foreclosures in the third quarter. However, only 1,673 homes out of the 311,475 on the market were foreclosed upon. The housing market has suffered a great deal since housing prices peaked in the first quarter of 2006. Since then, overall home prices have dropped 51.4%.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Venice, Fla.

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +67%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 2,003
Unemployment: 6.6%
% home value down from peak: -15.8%

The Boston metropolitan area is considered to have a particularly resilient housing market. In the most recent quarter, however, foreclosures have increased 67%. Home prices have only dropped 15.8% since they peaked in the third quarter of 2005. The national average is -32.3%. From the second quarter of 2010 to the second quarter of 2011, home prices dropped a mere 1.7%.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Boston, Mass

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +151%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,358
Unemployment: 6.9%
% home value down from peak: -14.9%

Albuquerque’s housing market, like Boston’s, is relatively healthy. While home prices decreased 32.3% nationally after their peak, home prices in Albuquerque only decreased 14.9% since they peaked. Regardless, foreclosures have recently skyrocketed. In the third quarter of 2011, the number of foreclosures in Albuquerque increased 151%. According to New Mexico Business Weekly, the lack of job creation in the area has been a major contributor to this problem.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Albuquerque, N.M.

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If homeowners are open to leaving their home and avoiding foreclosure, homeowners can: participate in a short-sale program or a "deed in lieu," which affects a borrower's credit score but less drastically than a foreclosure likely would, notes the Bank of America site.

Then, there is the more off-the-books approach. Tanya Dennis, who reoccupied her South Berkeley, Calif., home in January 2011 and worked with the bank to modify her loan terms (see related article), is writing a handbook to assist those homeowners who need a loan modification and who are running out of time and options. She shared some of the strategy's key points with Inman News.

First of all, she said, homeowners facing foreclosure have to evaluate their circumstances and decide whether they want to make a stand.

It's grueling and takes a lot of energy to stand up to the banks in a strong way, said Dennis. For that reason, it's critical that homeowners who decide to do so should have a supportive network of family and friends and organizations behind them with knowledge of the process.

Dennis said the negotiation process begins by speaking directly with bank representatives and attempting to negotiate a loan modification that works for you and the bank.

Be proactive when negotiating with banks, she said. Homeowners should draft a presentment letter that states clearly:
  • Who you are.
  • What went wrong.
  • What you want.
It's also crucial, said Dennis, to belong to a public grassroots organization, such as ACCE, which can keep the homeowner in the news and mobilize people to the cause with phone calls, emails and even a physical presence when imminent action is called for.

19 PHOTOS
Buyer's Market: Million-Dollar Foreclosures
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How to Avoid Foreclosure: Steps You Can Take to Keep Your Home

Location: Cherry Hills Village, Colo.
Price: $8.95 million
Beds/Baths: 8/9
Sq. Ft.: 21,320

Situated in affluent Cherry Hills Village, this home is absolutely enormous, spanning more than 20,000 square feet on its 2.5-acre plot. The home boasts mountain views, five fireplaces, a giant family room and a garage that holds a whopping nine cars. The neighborhood homeowner's association offers a clubhouse, pool, tennis courts and trash removal. 

Now see what you find inside of all 21,320 square feet

Location: Orono, Minn. 
Price: $6.95 million
Beds/Baths: 4/6
Sq. Ft.: 9,683

This shingle-style mansion commands 359 feet of beachy lakefront and three total acres of prime Orono real estate. The residence, which features tile floors and vaulted ceilings, also offers a carriage house for any guests you'd like to keep at arm's length on their lake house sojourn. 

See some stunning photos of the listing. 

Location: Scottsdale, Ariz. 
Price: $4.85 million
Beds/Baths: 5/8
Sq. Ft.: 10,423

Behind its stately stone and stucco exterior, this home offers equally elegant interior character with decorative features, like exposed-beam ceilings, reclaimed wood floors and Victorian-style chandeliers. The home sits on a ridge in the Upper Canyon of Silverleaf that has uninterrupted panoramas of the city. 

See the listing for details. 

Location: San Diego, Calif. 
Price: $1.729 million
Beds/Baths: 5/5
Sq. Ft.: 5,922

With ocean and golf-course views, this home boasts 5,992 square feet of total space and a swimming pool. 

Well, actually, that's not even the half of it. See what else you get by viewing the listing

Location: Los Angeles, Calif. 
Price: $999,999
Beds/Baths: 2 Units
Sq Ft: 3,916

$1 million gets you two units in the Beverly Center-Miracle Mile neighborhood of L.A. Originally built in French style, the units go pretty far back, all the way to 1936, in fact. 

See what the bank really has on its hands

Location: Portola Valley, Calif. 
Price: $6.9 million
Beds/Baths: 4/6
Sq. Ft.: 7,500

This stately Georgian's 8.5 acres pack amenities that include an equestrian facility and tennis courts.

See the listing for jaw-dropping photos and more details. 

Location: Malibu, Calif. 
Price: $2.699 million
Beds/Baths: 4/3
Sq. Ft.: 3,153

Offering hill and ocean views from its private balcony, this snappy Malibu property costs $856 per square foot and delivers residents a gated acre that includes a wet bar, pool and spa.

See the listing for details. 

Location: Castle Rock, Colo. 
Price: $2.55 million
Beds/Baths: 6/8
Sq. Ft.: 8,607

This home fits its town's name: With its turret and a stone exterior the mansion resembles a castle. Officially labeled a "mountain contemporary," the home is located on a cul-de-sac and comes with a four-car garage. 

But that's not all it comes with. Get the full details by viewing the listing

Location: Elizabeth, Colo. 
Price: $1.95 million
Beds/Baths: 4/3
Sq. Ft.: 3,277

This estate brings you a whopping 838 acres of Colorado countryside. Topped with Spanish tile, the residence contains four bedrooms and comes with a barn. 

See the listing for details. 

Location: Newport, R.I.
Price: $7.9 million
Beds/Baths: 7/8
Sq Ft: 12,500

The "Wyndham Estate" sits on Newport's posh Ocean Drive. Having undergone extensive renovations, the massive stone baronial mansion offers a ballroom, music room, elaborate landscaping and a rooftop deck with panoramic views of the ocean. 

See the listing for more details. 

Location: Phoenix, Ariz. 
Price: $6.95 million
Beds/Baths: 9/11
Sq. Ft.: 17,799 

It's hard to argue with the listing description when it describes this behemoth as "extraordinarily opulent." Adjacent to the world-class Arizona Biltmore Golf Course, the estate has a sweeping paved motor court that leads up to a massive amalgamation of stone, wood and iron -- 17,799 square feet of it. 

See the listing for more details. 

Location: Atlanta, Ga.
Price: $3.75 million
Beds/Baths: 7/9
Sq Ft: 22,000 

It's the sort of home you can actually get lost in. For avid cooks -- servants or otherwise -- there's a lot to work with: The mansion has four kitchens. In addition to myriad other amenities, the monster residence offers a home theater, pool, spa, sauna, steam room and elevator. 

Find out what else comes with the package

Location: Del Mar, Calif. 
Price: $4.495 million 
Beds/Baths: 3/3
Sq. Ft.: 3,142

Said to offer the most square footage of all homes in the ritzy Beach Colony of Del Mar, this stunner is steps from the beach. Special features include a great room, multiple patios and a secluded outdoor area with a spa, sand room and game room. 

See the listing for details. 

Location: Coral Gables, Fla. 
Price: $3.999
Beds/Baths: 3/3
Sq. Ft.: 5,710

This storied estate built in 1930 may need "major renovating," according to the listing, but its lush landscaping is sure to impress: Three whole acres of garden stretch across the premises, offering paths, grottoes, waterfalls, caves, and ponds draped with tropical trees and other foliage. 

Get a look into this stunning garden

Location: Las Vegas, Nev. 
Price: $2.45 million
Beds/Baths: 7/8
Sq. Ft.: 13,198

One of many, many other foreclosed homes in Las Vegas, Ground Zero of the housing crisis, this home shows just how far the dollar really goes when it comes to Sin City dirt. For $2.45 million, you get seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, 13,198 square feet, a lighted tennis court, a come-hither pool and much more. 

See some jackpot photos of the property.

Location: San Diego, Calif.
Price:  $1,150,000
Beds/Baths: 4/5
Sq. Ft.: 3,953

Live it up in this Spanish-style mansion built in 2002 -- you know, back when Kelly Clarkson and home prices were on the rise. The years have not been kind, however, and another millionaire’s misfortune could be your ticket to the good life.

See the listing for more. 

Location: Austin, Texas
Price: $2,350,000
Beds/Baths: 5/7
Sq. Ft.: 7,173

Whoo, doggie! Everything’s bigger in Texas, including this over-the-top, Mediterranean-style villa. Unfortunately for the previous owner, this dream castle was built in 2009, right in the middle of the housing market’s freefall. The massive manor includes three bars, a game room, a lounge, a “poolside kitchen and fountain,” multiple fireplaces and two elevators. So much for fiscal austerity.

Gaze at this Texas beauty.

Location: Denver, Colo.
Price: $1,373,300
Beds/Baths: 4/5
Sq. Ft.: 4,206

The fact that a home of this caliber can end up in the bank’s pocket shows just how pervasive the housing crisis has been. Built in 2004, this glass and concrete beauty is one sprawling, intricate showroom. With panoramic views of the hilly Denver landscape, this modern four-bedroom is perfect for star gazing – just so long as you’re comfortable with the neighbors staring back.

See what they'll stare at

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Also, it's a good idea to have a forensic loan audit performed on your loan, said Dennis, which can show missed protocol, improper actions, deceptive practices, and in some cases even bank fraud.

For example, noted Dennis, in mid-February San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting released the results of a study that audited 382 residential home loans in San Francisco County made between January 2009 and October 2011 -- about 16 percent of all loans from that time period.

The report found that 84 percent of the loans "had at least one clear violation of California's foreclosure laws."

The report, which also noted "irregularities" in 99 percent of the loans audited, prompted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to send a note to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to take the report into account when negotiating the multistate settlement.

Next, it's important for the homeowner to have the guts to stick it out, she said, because it's not easy standing up to banks and their lawyers.

It's a fluid process, said Dennis. At different stages of the game, there are different tactics to use, which become more drastic, like flooding a bank with calls, emails and involving the press, and, if necessary, bringing in a group of friends, family and even strangers to a home to resist eviction as an eviction date approaches.

Read more in Inman News:
Container homes: out-of-the-box thinking
10 Hot Spots for Global Homebuyers
Top 10 markets to invest in

31 PHOTOS
Rebounding Real Estate Markets: Top 10 Turnaround Towns
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How to Avoid Foreclosure: Steps You Can Take to Keep Your Home

Median List Price Appreciation: 17.79 percent
Median Age of Inventory: -16.18 percent
Inventory Change: -29.25 percent

Home Price: $2.999 million
Beds/Baths: 4/5
Sq. Ft.: 5,123

After slipping out of Realtor.com's top 10 rankings for the third quarter of last year, Punta Gorda has reclaimed status as a town in the vanguard of real estate recovery. Home prices are reportedly just beginning to trend upward. But they still have a long way to go: home prices in town are 56.2 percent lower than they were in 2006, at the peak of the housing boom. 

Dubbed the "Ultimate Executive two-story residence," by its Realtor, this 5,000-square-foot home offers 250 feet of "sailboat waterfront," -- you know, like water for yachts, not dinghies.  

See more homes for sale in Punta Gorda, Fla.

The home is outfitted to withstand harsh weather conditions, with high-impact windows and hurricane shutters. 

See more homes for sale in Punta Gorda, Fla.

Outside amenities abound: The home has an expansive pool with a tiki bar and "summer kitchen." There is also a waterfall, spa and outdoor shower. 

See more homes for sale in Punta Gorda, Fla.

Median List Price Appreciation: 9.09 percent
Median Age of Inventory: -28.89 percent
Inventory Change: -35.28 percent

At 11 percent, the Lakeland-Winter area has the highest rate of unemployment on Realtor.com's top 10. But the real estate market seems to be another story. Realtor.com says that the area was the fourth-most-searched spot by users of their listing service. Distressed home sales have fallen significantly from last year as well.  

Home Price: $1.3 million
Beds/Baths: 4/6
Sq. Ft.: 7,813

The local market may be on the road to recovery, but distressed home sales still are hindering the market. This French mansion is selling by way of short sale. 

See more homes for sale in Lakeland, Fla.

The home features a cedar double-front door, Brazilian cherry flooring and custom stone columns. Pictured here is the home's glass-enclosed pool. 

See more homes for sale in Lakeland, Fla.

There's also a chef's kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances along with a wine cooler and wet-bar-equipped butler's pantry. 

See more homes for sale in Lakeland, Fla.

Median List Price Appreciation: 7.84 percent
Median Age of Inventory: -35.71 percent
Inventory Change: -41.63 percent

Home Price: $5 million
Beds/Baths: 6/6
Sq. Ft.: 8,700

Sale prices in this sultry town have risen 18 percent year-over-year, as of November, quite an encouraging sign for the local market. Meanwhile, unemployment is shrinking. The rate fell to 9.4 percent in November. 

This Mediterranean may have just seen its price slashed, but with a $5 million ask, it'll still cost you a pretty penny.

See more homes for sale in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 

The home sprawls a whopping 8,700 square feet, which overlooks a large stretch of waterfront.

See more homes for sale in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 

The home offers community recreation and boating facilities. And guess what? "Pets are allowed!"

See more homes for sale in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 

Median List Price Appreciation: 13.38 percent
Median Age of Inventory: -13.64 percent
Inventory Change: -35.94 percent

Home Price: $19.9 million
Beds/Baths: 6/7
Sq. Ft.: 8,226

Naples finds its way onto Realtor.com's list for the first time this quarter, thanks, in part, to its housing market's 13.64 percent decline in median age inventory and 13.38 increase in median list price. 

Naples offers its fair share of uber-luxury homes. This waterfront mansion, at nearly $20 million, costs $2,419 per square foot. 

See more homes for sale in Naples, Fla. 

The stucco mega-mansion offers stunning ocean vistas viewable from its kingly balcony. 

See more homes for sale in Naples, Fla. 

Pictured here is a dining room of the home (we're guessing there's probably another one considering the place is 8,000 square feet). The elaborately decorated room features what appears to be a flying saucer. Maybe it can beam up the filet mignon. 

See more homes for sale in Naples, Fla. 

Median List Price Appreciation: 13.77 percent
Median Age of Inventory: -23.42 percent
Inventory Change: -39.66 percent

Home Price: $1.5 million
Beds/Baths: 4/5
Sq. Ft.: 4,875

A drop in foreclosures in this city shrank its year-over-year for-sale inventory by a whopping 40 percent as of last year's fourth quarter. The city also enjoys the benefit of an unemployment rate that is lower than the national average. 

With all its luster, this brand new 4,875-square-foot mansion gives you a taste of just how far your money can go in the Western city. 

See more homes for sale in Boise, Idaho

The one-acre property commands a generous stretch of waterfront and features airy rooms with soaring ceilings and expansive windows. 

See more homes for sale in Boise, Idaho

Exposed beams, and elaborate details and finishes, infuse the home's interior with Old World grace. 

See more homes for sale in Boise, Idaho

Median List Price Appreciation: 10.78 percent
Median Age of Inventory: -26.57 percent
Inventory Change: -31.01 percent

Home Price: $12.5 million
Beds/Baths: 7/9
Sq. Ft.: 7,194

In Sarasota, home sales jumped 17 percent last year while median list prices defied the national downward price decline by ticking up 2 percent. Realtor.com goes so far as to suggest that the market may have graduated to "seller's market" status, unthinkable in most housing markets across the country. 

Thrust out into the Gulf of Mexico, this jaw-dropping manse practically commands its own square-shaped peninsula. But apparently personal peninsulas don't come cheap in Sarasota: This property is listed to the tune of $12.5 million.

See more homes for sale in Sarasota, Fla.

Touted as the "finest boating estate in Sarasota," by the home's listing description, the property spans two acres that offer 500 feet of waterfront. 

See more homes for sale in Sarasota, Fla.

Pictured here is the home's covered dock that parks at least two boats. Inside the home you'll find an exercise room, library and attached "oversized" verandas. Other outdoor amenities include an expansive pool and shuffleboard courts. 

See more homes for sale in Sarasota, Fla.

Median List Price Appreciation: 31.27 percent
Median Age of Inventory: -17.60 percent
Inventory Change: -35.31 percent

Price: $8.7 million
Beds/Baths: 6/13
Sq. Ft.: 13,723

The Fort Myers-Cape Coral area continues to chug along the path to recovery with its median sales price zooming upward by 20 percent last year. But there's more to brag about: The area experienced the highest year-over-year increase in median list price for the fourth quarter -- 31.27 percent. 

This magnificent home is a beast: It stretches more than 13,000 square feet and has 13 bathrooms. 

See more homes for sale in Fort Myers, Fla. 

The foyer area has a distinctly palatial feel with its sweeping marble floors and double staircase. 

See more homes for sale in Fort Myers, Fla.

The thatched gazebo is obviously not your average one, seeing as it covers its own personal lagoon and pool bar. 

See more homes for sale in Fort Myers, Fla.

Median List Price Appreciation: 8.22 percent
Median Age of Inventory: -36.52 percent
Inventory Change: -44.02 percent

Home Price: $3.99 million
Beds/Baths: 5/8
Sq. Ft.: 8,676

Year-over-year inventory plummeted by 44 percent in Orlando in the fourth quarter of last year, while list prices rose 8.22 percent. Both movements point toward a market that is truly beginning to right itself. 

Fit for the big-swinging, cigar-smoking mogul, this luxury home, which recently had its price cut, puts you close to the links. 

See more homes for sale in Orlando, Fla. 

Exquisite details sweeten the interior throughout its many rooms. Look no farther than the gourmet kitchen for proof: Here a chandelier and chic hanging lights infuse the area with a dash of grandeur.

See more homes for sale in Orlando, Fla. 

The home costs $460 per square foot. One cool amenity mentioned in the listing? A game room!

See more homes for sale in Orlando, Fla.  

Median List Price Appreciation: 15.38 percent
Median Age of Inventory: -27.47 percent
Inventory Change: -48.10 percent

Home Price: $5.995 million
Beds/Baths: 6/8
Sq. Ft.: 11,039

An area that had its housing market severely bruised by the foreclosure crisis, the Phoenix-Mesa area is mounting a recovery in a big way. While residents continue to file for foreclosure at a rate above the national average, the glut of cheap homes idling on the market has lured bargain-hunters. The area's relatively low unemployment rate of 7.7 percent also will work in its housing market's favor. 

This stately, well-landscaped chateau, despite its enormous price tag, is probably a bargain, considering Phoenix's post-housing bust nosedive in home prices. 

See more homes for sale in Phoenix, Ariz. 

The home features dark wood flooring, granite and marble and custom millwork. There's a wine room, gourmet kitchen, theater room and exercise room. 

See more homes for sale in Phoenix, Ariz. 

The amenities go on for quite a while: dry sauna and office, master suite with sitting area and marble baths, recording studio, pool, spa, outdoor fireplaces and four-car garage, to name a few. 

See more homes for sale in Phoenix, Ariz. 

Median List Price Appreciation: 28.57 percent
Median Age of Inventory: -30.89 percent
Inventory Change: -51.44 percent

Home Price: $6 million
Beds/Baths: 2/3
Sq. Ft.: 3,870

Buy in the city where the heat is on -- all night on the beach 'cause the housing slump's gone! Welcome to Miami (beinvenido a Miami)!

Miami leads the pack of cities building toward a recovery. Existing home sales in the Miami area leaped 51 percent in the third quarter compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, inventory shrank by half. Realtor.com suggests that much of the improvement is attributable to strong foreign activity in the market. 

This luxury apartment may soon be the trophy home of some foreign magnate. According to Realtor.com, in May of last year, international buyers purchased about 60 percent of existing houses and condos and 90 percent of the newly built homes in Miami.

See more homes for sale in Miami, Fla. 

Through its floor-to-ceiling windows, the sleek, modern condo offers truly mind-blowing views of Miami's glittering skyline. 

See more homes for sale in Miami, Fla. 

The home's stark, airy interior offers a rich array of colorful, alternative furnishings. You have to be cool to live here. 

See more homes for sale in Miami, Fla.

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