It has been widely reported that Sam Zell has been buying distressed assets. Dan Fasulo, managing director at New York-based research firm Real Capital Analytics, was quoted as saying, “”Does it get any better than when Sam Zell starts buying property in your market?” I don’t know how much more confidence investors need to start making decisions. Everybody has got to realize that the world is not over.”

I could not have said it any better. For all of 2010, guests on my radio show at Income Property Investment Talk dot com (and you can hear them by listening to the MP3s at the Web site) have said it’s a great time to invest in distressed assets — and that there are numerous encouraging signs to support that advice.

Positive signs. You’ve read them here and on numerous real estate investing blogs and Web sites. And the good news keeps on coming.

New statistics from Bank Foreclosures Sale, a leading online provider of foreclosure listings and information, reveal that foreclosure rates in states across the nation were down significantly during January. Nationally, the number of foreclosures for sale fell by 10% from December to January, with a total of 315,710 foreclosure homes reported. While these figures do indicate that the new year seems to be getting off on the right foot for buyers and investors, experts point to the fact that this month’s total may be down, but is still 15% higher than it was in January of 2009.

However, Bank Foreclosures Sale wrote, there are plenty of positive signs out there, especially when you narrow in on the statistics for regional markets. For example, the top 6 states for foreclosure rates, Nevada, Arizona, California, Florida, Texas and Illinois, accounted for 60% of the national foreclosure property total. However, these states are not seeing anywhere near the foreclosure growth rates that they have previously. Texas and California saw their foreclosures drop by roughly 11%, while Florida experienced a 14.9% decrease in foreclosure homes.

Similarly, Phoenix, AZ was the only metropolitan area in the Top 10 for foreclosures to see an increase in January, and it was only a 4% gain. Other cities, such as Orlando, FL; San Bernardino, CA; and Cape Coral, FL all saw significant decreases.

“These are some of the biggest foreclosure inventories in the nation, so this should be a signal to buyers,” remarked Simon Campbell, a Business Analyst for Bank Foreclosures Sale. “Less foreclosures means climbing home values, and with sale prices for foreclosed homes already looking up in many areas, this could be the beginning of a great year for buyers.”

Other areas with notable decreases in foreclosure homes during January were New Jersey, down 39.3%; North Carolina, which fell 11.3%; Ohio, down 5.5%; and Alabama, where foreclosures dropped by 28.4%.

There are good signs, no doubt. There are good people out there to help you find the opportunities that work best for you. Use those folks to your advantage.

Invest well.

Peace.

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