Record 2009 foreclosure rate is mixed bag of news

foreclosureThere are two ways of looking at the foreclosure news I'm about to tell you: One is that it is devastating! Proof that our economy may be working better now for Chase and Bank of America and some other "too big to fail" type institutions, but not so for the vast majority of the rest of us. The other way to look at the news I am about to tell you is, for potential home buyers, the year ahead will be a virtual flowing fountain of bargains and opportunities.

Let's take the first approach, well, first.

According to a just released study by Realty Trac, the foreclosure rate for 2009 hit a record high -- "the number of U.S. residential properties receiving at least one foreclosure filing jumped 21% in 2009 to a record 2.82 million," says MarketWatch.

Four states are actually responsible for more than 50% of that total figure -- California, Florida, Arizona and Illinois.

The new report concludes there is no relief anywhere in sight .. .meaning no real letup to foreclosures in the months ahead.

Could this be good news? Depends

Which brings me to the second, and far different, view: A celebration, of sorts, that there should be practically an unlimited supply of much cheaper homes on the marketplace for the foreseeable future, affording those with jobs and good credit a real golden opportunity to pick up some enormous properties at practically bargain basement prices.

But buying these distressed properties can be risky, especially if there are too many foreclosed properties in the same neighborhood. This could mean having to wait a really long time until home values in that neighborhood go up high enough to make your investment pay off. That's why it is vital you use a real estate agent who has lots of experience dealing with foreclosed properties.

Two sides of the same coin.

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think- The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-Hour News Cycle."

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