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Homeowners bet on improved market



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Instead of gutting a foreclosed home in downtown Clarkston, Lisa Gusman, left, and Cheryl Waring renovated it and hope to sell it. Photos by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
October 05, 2011 - While hundreds of Clarkston-area homes are still in foreclosure, Cheryl Waring and Lisa Gusman of Clarkston see a turnaround coming.

They're acting on it, too. They took a foreclosed property in the City of the Village of Clarkston and renovated it for sale.

"The market is starting to turn around a little bit," said Waring, associate broker with ReMax Encore. "Prices are going up. Construction money is available. There's investment in Michigan again. Houses are selling."

They're set to list the 3,000-square-foot house at 62 Buffalo for $325,000. When in foreclosure, it was $140,000.

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"We were originally looking at it as a rental, but taxes are high and we'd have to charge a lot in rent," Waring said. "It was in rough shape, but the potential to be beautiful was there. I think we did that."

"I've always wanted to try this," Gusman said. "I wanted to start off big. It's been a great experience. All the contractors have been wonderful, and the neighbors are happy."

The house and its additions were completed in 1977. Waring and Gusman purchased it from the bank in January and recently completed renovations.

In accordance with Clarkston Historical Preservation Society permit, they preserved the exterior but were free to renovate the inside.

"Everything is new," Waring said. "It's in a great location. It's right behind the Union. We expect it to sell."

The rate of increase in the number of foreclosures countywide has been faling in recent years, according to Oakland County Equalization Department.

Foreclosures increased by 83.7 percent in 2006, to 4,904 foreclosures; 39.9 percent in 2007; 32.3 in 2008; fell by 7.1 percent in 2009, and increased by 10.8 percent last year. The county estimates foreclosures to fall by 16-17 percent this year.

So far this year, 8,846 properties are in foreclosure countywide.

The number of foreclosures in Independence Township hit 106 in 2006, increasing to 303 last year. So far this year, 251 properties are in the foreclosure process.

Springfield Township foreclosures topped 100, hitting 110, in 2008, with 103 last year. Forty properties are in foreclosure so far in 2011.

Foreclosures in the City of the Village of Clarkston hit nine in 2009, with eight last year.

More property owners are shortselling instead of going into foreclosure, selling at reduced prices. In the Clarkston area, more properties are being sold privately, Waring said.

"People are able to sell their houses again without giving it to the bank or short selling," she said.

The future is still uncertain, but this is a good sign, Waring noted.

"Anything can happen," she said.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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