LIANE HANSEN, host:
Countless factors figure into the health of the economy. And there are many players in many different industries whose work contributes to the wealth of the nation. Today we begin an occasional series of mini portraits of people who work in such industries, and we've chosen to start with the housing market. But our next guest is neither a borrower nor a lender.
Mr. RICK CROSSLEY (Auctioneer, Nectar Projects): The trustee's foreclosure sale for real estate known as 10-171 Marshall Pond Road…
HANSEN: Rick Crossley is an auctioneer for Nectar Projects, a company that processes foreclosures. Every month he travels to county courthouses in Northern Virginia to try to sell foreclosed houses to interested buyers. We reached him in front of the Fairfax Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia. Hi, Mr. Crossley.
Mr. CROSSLEY: How are you?
HANSEN: I'm well. Thanks for your time. Is it a busy day today?
Mr. CROSSLEY: Well, actually it is pretty crowded out here.
HANSEN: What's going on?
Mr. CROSSLEY: Well, mostly auctioneers but there's somebody apparently has a property there's some interest in.
Mr. CROSSLEY: There's a dozen or so people out here this morning.
HANSEN: How does that compare to other auctions that you've had to do this past month?
Mr. CROSSLEY: Over the last year this is an amazingly huge crowd, comparatively speaking. But every once in a while a particular piece of property comes up that generates some interest. So it looks like somebody has one this morning.
HANSEN: So you go through the same process whether or not there's anybody in the room to listen to?
Mr. CROSSLEY: Correct.
HANSEN: And have there been times when there's no one there?
Mr. CROSSLEY: It's not unusual for me to call five or six in a row with nobody around to hear me buy myself so…
HANSEN: But do you have to do it?
Mr. CROSSLEY: Yes, you do.
Mr. CROSSLEY: You do have to announce to the public even if there's no public visible that you are holding the sale. And you have to call the bid amount and you have to declare it three times and declare it sold.
HANSEN: So, fewer people are showing up, you're doing more auctions, sounds like the housing market doesn't know what it's doing.
Mr. CROSSLEY: Well, yeah. There's a lot more auctions. There's a much higher percentage of properties that enter foreclosure that actually go to sale compared to a couple of years ago. But, you know, it seems like the investors, and there are a number of regulars that just you get to know over the course of a couple of years. But it seems that they're either sitting on properties that they already have or they're just waiting to see where exactly the market's going.
HANSEN: Um-hum. What kind of properties are we talking about? Mostly residences or are there office buildings and so forth?
Mr. CROSSLEY: Well, it varies but the bulk of them are single-family homes.
HANSEN: So it's families whose homes are in foreclosure.
Mr. CROSSLEY: It seems that most of them are.
HANSEN: How long have you been doing this? A couple of years you said.
Mr. CROSSLEY: Two years, yeah.
HANSEN: So, as if you're in the newspapers letting people know where the auctions are and you're the guy that goes around to the different courthouses in Virginia and makes that happen as the auctioneer, right?
Mr. CROSSLEY: That's it.
HANSEN: Yeah. What's your schedule like for April?
Mr. CROSSLEY: For April?
Mr. CROSSLEY: I would say there's probably, I think probably about 130 sales scheduled as of right now. Now, some of those won't go to sale. Lenders are actually quite anxious to keep people in their houses. If people will work with the lenders, you know, they're bend over backwards to try and keep people in their houses.
HANSEN: How long do you think you can keep doing this?
Mr. CROSSLEY: I imagine probably 'til I retire.
Final call: sold to the lender (unintelligible).
HANSEN: This Thursday, Rick Crossley will once again get into his car, turn on his audio book and drive from courthouse to courthouse in Northern Virginia to auction off foreclosed properties.
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HANSEN: One more foreclosure story: in Lafayette, Indiana yesterday, a local real estate agent held a foreclosure safari for potential homebuyers. He took them on a chartered three-hour bus ride around town with stop-offs at homes with prices that started at about $39,000.
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HANSEN: You're listening to NPR News.
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