WEST TOWN — The good news is that the real estate market is picking up. The bad news is that nearly a quarter of the homes sold in the past 12 months in West Town were classified as "distressed."
In the last 12 months in West Town there were 114 short sales, 147 foreclosures and 878 traditional non-distressed sales, said Realtor Eva Bergant.
According to Bergant, the month of November was a strong one for West Town, with 1,138 closings, as compared to 851 closings in November 2011.
"There haven't been that many closings in West Town since January 2009," Bergant said. "The average sales price [for homes in West Town] is not up, but the number of sales are up."
In the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods, there were nine properties changing hands during a two-week reporting period from Nov. 18 to Dec. 2. Three of the sales were short sales and one was a foreclosure, according to Bergant's blog.
Realtor JP Bitting lives and works in West Town and recently assisted a family with selling their condo on the 700 block of N. Milwaukee Ave. through a short sale, when a bank agrees to allow a property owner to sell their home for less than what's owed on the property.
"It's psychologically daunting to be involved in short sale, you're in danger of losing your home, which is the biggest purchase you've made," said Bitting. "It's not always the best answer to do a short sale but it's a good option for sellers that are in distress."
Bitting predicts a rise in short sales now that banks introduced new methods to speed up the process.
"Banks put a hard timeline to a short sale of 120 days whereas before it could take a year or longer. They added more people to the departments in the bank, too. When this whole mess happened they could have five people in charge of hundreds of short sales," Bitting said.
From the buyer's perspective "short sales are nice because people are actually living in their home and you know it's being cared for unlike a foreclosure," Bitting said. From the seller's perspective, he said it "allows them to get back on their feet by getting out of accumulating debt and helps to relieve banks of inventory."