By Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press Writer
PHOENIX (AP) — Each time Lance and Kelli Thorson thought they had found their first home, someone would outbid them. It's already happened at least 15 times.
This wasn't how it was supposed to be in a depressed housing market like Phoenix. Buyers are supposed to be able to walk in, and get pretty much whatever they want. Now, the Thorsons have taken up a tactic not seen since the heydays of the housing bubble — they are making offers on homes before they've seen them, as many as three per day.
"It's frustrating because we've jumped through all the hoops and there still isn't a reward," Kelli Thorson said.
In Phoenix suburbs and other areas of the nation saturated with foreclosed homes, low prices for bank-owned properties are sparking bidding wars that drive up sale prices, entice investors and frustrate traditional buyers who make dozens of offers and still can't land a home.
Experts say the environment is strikingly similar to what they saw at the height of the real estate bubble.
"This market is about as abnormal as the hypermarket that we came out of a few years ago," said Jay Butler, director of the Realty Studies program at Arizona State University.
Because they often pay cash and buy several houses at once, investors are attractive to banks trying to shed dozens of foreclosures, he said. Traditional buyers add time and hassle to the process because they have to be approved for a mortgage.