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Agents find a niche selling repossessed homes

Realty agents Cindy Otten and Laurie Larsen are making the best of a bad situation.

With dozens of repossessed homes on the market because of the mortgage meltdown, Otten and Larsen have found a niche in selling them.

"A home buyer should absolutely be looking right now," says Otten. "They should find some very nice deals on the market."

According to Otten, a Century 21 agent based in Hudson, there are 20 to 25 repossessed homes currently for sale within the Hudson School District. The River Falls area has 10 to 15 on the market, and other surrounding communities -- Roberts, Hammond, Somerset and New Richmond -- have similar numbers of them.

Otten works with Larsen, a River Falls Century 21 agent hired to list repossessed, bank-owned homes.

"Things are really heating up, especially in the foreclosure market. That's what's really selling," Otten says.

She and Larsen are advertising a "Repo Bus Tour" that they hope to guide soon.

The idea -- which Otten borrowed from real estate agents in California -- is to load up a bus of prospective buyers on a Saturday and take them around to some of the most attractive repossessed homes in the area for a walk-through.

People can sign up for the tour at

The site also has links to Otten's and Larsen's Web pages, home listings and contact information.

The pair says repossessed homes are available in a variety of price ranges, styles and conditions. They include single-family dwellings, twin homes and townhouses.

Larsen recently sold a house on Riverside Drive in North Hudson that provides scenic views of Lake Mallalieu. It's in good condition and sold for $100,000 less than it would have three years ago, according to Larsen.The offerings range in price from $70,000 for some homes in outlying communities to $780,000 for a mansion in Hudson.

"There are some very nice homes out there. And there are some homes that need work," says Larsen. "Whatever anybody wants, we've got them."

Otten adds that low interest rates, in addition to lower prices, make it a good time to buy. The problem is that fewer people qualify for mortgages because of the tightening of the credit market.

Repossessed homes are moving, however, Otten reports.

"Agents in western Wisconsin are trying to do their part to get them sold so we can move on - get our market back to where it needs to be," she says. "The faster the foreclosures get sold, the better it is for everyone. It benefits everyone by stabilizing the whole economy."

Otten and Larsen say they haven't had enough people sign up for the bus tour yet to schedule a trip. But they're expecting it to happen now that the weather has warmed.

"We've already got the bus hired. We're ready to go as soon as we get enough (buyers) to fill a bus," Larsen says.

Otten and Larsen say they have received a good response to "The Repo Bus Tour" ad on the Star-Observer's Web site,

"We've definitely picked up customers from this. We just haven't loaded up a bus," Larsen says.

The agents are happy to show repossessed homes on a individual basis.

You can contact Otten at (612) 916-7309 or Larsen at (612) 598-9259.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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