Grand Rapids - A leading Grand Rapids realtor Wednesday said foreclosures are having a huge impact on the local housing market.
Jamie Starner, immediate past president of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors, says a full 50% of local home sales over the past two months were of foreclosed properties. A year ago, they made up 15% of January and February home sales.
Starner called foreclosures "a crisis that is not just a banking crisis - it is a crisis for our society." Yet, he says such homes offer huge opportunities for homebuyers.
"This is a window of opportunity that I don't think will be open forever," Starner said. However, he was unwilling to predict Wednesday when that window would close.
He said the housing market would not return to normalcy until the foreclosed home bubble has passed through the system. It's a bubble that has depressed prices for homes across Kent County by 6.8%.
Starner said a healthy balance of housing would result in a typical home taking about six months to sell. In August, that time period was twelve months; today, it's about ten and a half months.
Starner said, "I think we're turning 'a' corner" - but turning "the" corner remains a way off."
Still, he said Grand Rapids' situation is much better than southeast Michigan, where 75% of the state's foreclosed homes are located.