Bus tours visit foreclosed homes
Prospective buyers check out homes in Gaithersburg and Montgomery Village
Ten people signed up for the day-long excursion, which stopped at seven properties in Gaithersburg and Montgomery Village hand-picked by the tour’s sponsor, Jobin Realty.
The group traveled by charter bus to a variety of homes ranging from single-family houses to condominiums. They examined the properties while guides, including people familiar with home inspections, offered tips on what renovations a prospective buyer would need to make and whether the mortgage would make it profitable to rent out. All of the homes were last purchased for $230,000 to $500,000 and some had been bought as recently as 2007, according to state property records.
‘‘There’s been quite a bit of interest so far with not only home buyers but investors,” said Realtor George Fountain, one of the tour’s organizers. ‘‘This is a great time to buy because prices have come down to a more realistic level and money is so cheap.”
As of Tuesday, four offers had been made on homes on the tour, said Rodney Townsend, a founder of www.foreclosurebustours.com.
Montgomery County had the second-highest number of delinquent loan and foreclosures in the state through February after Prince George’s, according to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Montgomery had 4,554 homeowners with delinquent home loans in addition to 1,726 homes already in foreclosure, with 349 homes in Gaithersburg and 154 in Montgomery Village. Silver Spring had the most with 471 homes in foreclosure.
Maryland’s foreclosure rate increased 639 percent between 2006 and 2007, according to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Web site.
And foreclosure rates will continue to rise, state officials told the County Council earlier this month. It is estimated that 25,057 subprime mortgages will go into foreclosure between 2007 and 2009, according to the site.
Many on Saturday’s tour were looking to jump-start their finances by purchasing foreclosed properties for cheap.
‘‘I’m just getting into the investing field,” said Sylvan Jayaraman, 29. The Silver Spring resident, who recently returned from a Navy deployment, decided to check it out at the behest of a friend involved in real estate.
Lori Jean, 28, clad in a baby blue Foreclosure Bus Tour T-shirt, and husband Kempes Jean, 28, were looking to move up from the condo they currently rent in Gaithersburg.
‘‘We’re looking for our first home,” she said during a lunch break at a Rockville home being renovated by tour organizer and Realtor Marilyn Emery. The sole Rockville house was included as an example of the kind of work some foreclosure properties could need. ‘‘We just never thought of buying in Montgomery County because the prices were so ridiculous,” Lori Jean said.
Townsend and Ralph Claxton, both Michigan-based investors, saw opportunity among the foreclosure chaos and founded www.foreclosurebustours.com last spring. Their tours of Detroit became a hit and they began franchising around the country. In addition to the Montgomery County franchise, Equity and Foreclosure Bus Tours, the company’s tours can be found in Chicago, Phoenix and New Haven, Conn. The tour will next go to Rockville and Silver Spring, Fountain said.
‘‘A lot of people, they have the money, they have the interest and they’ve seen the shows, but nobody’s there holding your hand,” Townsend said at the tour.