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What the housing turnaround will look like

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As a result, home sales have been increasing, in some months dramatically. Houses “are coming on the market and going into multiple-bid situations,” says Suzanne Sherer, president of the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach, Inc. “So we’re almost seeing the situation where investors are pushing out the first-time home buyer. That could be a clear indication we are out of the bottom.”

With the rise in sales, inventories are declining as well. Across the country, the National Association of Realtors estimates there is now a nine-month supply of homes on the market – down 15.8 percent from a year ago. In nearby Fort Myers, the supply is 3.8 months. Professional investors and even average homeowners are actually clamoring for more foreclosed real estate to be sold by banks.

Woody and Gloria Turner, for instance, are searching for a warmer place to live after several decades in Dayton, Ohio. He’s a boat broker, she’s retiring. They’ve just driven 17 hours to attend an auction, but, in the end, didn’t bid because the minimum price was too high. The foreclosed property had a $651,000 mortgage. They hoped to pay no more than $250,000. They haven’t given up, though: They’re searching for a broker to negotiate with the bank.

“In the past, we weren’t able to do this,” says Mr. Turner. “It would have been just out of reach.”

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