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Limo foreclosure tours give buyers chance to shop in style

Auburn-based real estate team offering morning of education, buys
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A super-stretch limousine tour of bank-foreclosed properties in Placer and Sacramento counties is attempting to help smooth out what has been a bumpy real-estate market ride in recent months. Auburn Gold Rush Group's Nikki Holmes and Sidne Allinger have teamed with Loomis' Alan Hoskin of Lakeshore Pacific Limousine to offer a free foreclosure limousine tour that takes passengers to bank-owned properties in style and comfort. It's not unique. An Arizona real estate business offers a similar tour. So does a Yuba City business that also contracts with Lakeshore Pacific. And then there are at least three buses wending their way through the Sacramento foreclosure marketplace. Holmes and Allinger say the limo tour is a chance for prospective buyers to get educated about foreclosed properties, see a few examples in the course of a Saturday morning, and have a fun experience, while taking care of business. It's about taking a different approach in a different market, Allinger said. We try to make it light, fun and festive. If you focus on the gloom and doom, you're going to find it becomes more prevalent. Gold Rush Group held a caravan tour in February to homes in the Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln areas. The tour idea will move a couple of notches up on March 15 when up to 18 participants will step into a 40-foot Lincoln Navigator super-stretch limo. The tour of bank-foreclosed homes will focus on properties from about $200,000 to $300,000. First-time homebuyers and investors are the target audience for a morning that starts off with coffee, pastries and a brief seminar on the market with a lender and title company repetitive. Then it's off in the limo from a title company office in Roseville for a tour of an anticipated six to 10 properties in the Roseville, Lincoln and Rocklin. Driver Alan Hoskin, of the Orangevale-based limo service, said he's been performing similar duties in Yuba City for the past three months and enjoys the opportunity to take a comparatively low-key group around for a morning tour. He pointed out that prom season is beginning, a particularly hectic “ and less placid “ time in the limo industry. I've been watching the market and thought it would be a good idea to use limos, Hoskin said. I found out that Nikki and Sidne were thinking along the same lines. The tour has plenty of properties to pick from in Placer County. The county had 293 active bank-foreclosure listings on Wednesday, according to Multiple Listing Service figures. Since Sept. 1, 440 foreclosed properties have been sold. As of late January, DataQuick real estate information service reported foreclosure activity around the state was continuing to increase. DataQuick figures showed 81,550 default notices issues in the fourth quarter of last year. That was up 12.4 percent from the previous quarter and a 114.6 percent boost from the fourth quarter of 2006. Placer County foreclosures increased 57.4 percent between the last quarter of 2006 and the final three months of 2007 “ from 540 notices of default on homes and condominiums to 850, according to a DataQuick release. Holmes said that while the limo tour is a departure from the traditional one-to-one relationship in the industry, the service element and the personal touch is still important. Tour reservations can be made by phoning (530) 906-7745. You want them to know you're being responsive to the ˜nth' degree, Holmes said. We're armed with as much information as possible. As for taking the limo idea one step further and hiring a Greyhound-sized bus, Allinger said that's not the Gold Rush Group style. It reminds me of getting on the bus and going to Reno, she said. The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com, or post a comment at auburnjournal.com.