width=398According to a recent realty report by Reuters, an unbelievable number of US homeowners lost their homes to banks. RealtyTrac, a real estate data company sees a record 1.2 million repossessions this year, up from just fewer than 1 million last year, with more than 3.2 million US homes in some stage of foreclosure.

In 2005, before the housing bust, banks took over just about 100,000 houses, according to the Irvine, California-based company.

In a chat with a Reuters correspondent, RealtyTrac senior vice president Rick Sharga said It really does look like we're seeing a slowdown of new foreclosures being initiated as part of a means to manage inventory levels on the market.

Banks foreclosed on 95,364 properties in August, topping the May 2010 record by 2 per cent. Repossessions jumped by 3 per cent in the month and 25 per cent in the year.

At the same time, a similar amount - 96,469 homes - got a default notice. Defaults declined 1 percent from July and 30 percent from August 2009 after peaking at 142,064 properties in April 2009.

Sharga insisted that it will take at least three years to work through the stockpile of distressed housing.

Total foreclosure actions last month were made on a total of 338,836 properties in August, up 4 percent from July and down 5 percent from August 2009.

One in every 381 housing units got a foreclosure filing last month.

Slowing home sales could tilt more owners toward foreclosure.

Fewer buyers means it's going to take longer to clear out the distressed inventory, the longer you have that inventory the more price pressure there is on the overall housing market, said Sharga. The more price pressure, the more homes are in danger of going into foreclosure because they're going to be upside down.

Homeowners currently are left with a mortgage bigger than the home's value. Foreclosure auctions were scheduled for the first time on about 147,000 properties last month, up 9 percent from July.

Nevada, Florida, Arizona and California had the highest state foreclosure rates in August, with Nevada topping the list. Idaho, Utah, Georgia, Michigan, Illinois and Hawaii were the other states with the highest rates of foreclosure.

Montreal properties face fluctuating sales

Properties in Montreal have made better sales in August this year, compared to that of last year. They were bought more quickly than during the same month a year earlier, but the total number of sales is persistently continuing to drop as the market slows, MLS data reveal.

The Greater Montreal Real Estate Board reveals that the total residential sales dropped 16 per cent year over year in August. However median prices are continuing to rise, even as the properties that do sell are being picked up more quickly.

Last month, single-family homes in the Montreal sold in an average of 69 days, 10 days faster than in August 2009, according to the Montreal Gazette. It took 11 fewer days to sell a condo and 29 fewer days to sell a plex.

Yet the actual sale of plexes - many of which have been converted to condos - plunged by 22 percent in August, compared with last year figures.

The median price of single family homes in the Montreal area reached $254,000 last month - a seven-per-cent increase compared with a year earlier. The median price of condominiums grew by nine per cent to reach $215,000, while plexes rose 14 per cent to reach $395,000.

Speaking to Montreal Gazette, Patrick Juanéda, president of the Montreal real estate board's board of directors says The real estate market in the Montreal area is currently a seller's market: Average selling times are very short and the number of properties available on the market decreased for the 13th consecutive month in August, leaving slightly less choice for buyers. Further, he added that as market conditions are tighter, property prices in the Montréal area continued to increase.

Hike your property's sale value

 Want to boost your sale price by a few thousands, and earn back at least some of what you spent on your property? Here are a few simple steps you need to follow to be able to sell it at the highest possible bid! Take note.

Take time to tidy it up, that'll automatically draw more attention from prospective buyers. Try and dispose of all unwanted stuff - donate them to charity or sell it on e-bay. Even additional, useless furniture may be sold to local retailers. Invest the money on refurbishing instead. Try to make it look as spacious and appealing as possible.

It is useful to hire storage space and also cost-effective taking into account the anticipated increase in sale price and the promptness of the sale. 

Keep bathing products at a bare minimum. It wouldn't take a lot to purchase a new set of what you think is utmost essential.

In the kitchen, remove as many items from the work surface as possible. Clutter-free counter tops and spice racks would definitely be more appealing. Let only the bare minimum be visibly placed - the kettle, toaster and microwave for instance.  Try to create the feeling of space by ensuring your kitchen counter is as empty and clean as possible. Make sure your cupboards are clean and tidy.

If you haven't made proper use of the rooms you have, in the past, make sure you present them in the right way, at least to the prospective buyer. For instance, if you are using a third bedroom as a 'clutter room' or store area, pack up the clutter and put a bed instead to prove its purpose. Remember that when you are selling a property, you are selling a lifestyle. 

If possible, replace your old-fashioned TV set, DVD player and small kitchen appliances for more updated versions. 

Decorate the rooms with a fresh coat of paint. The smell of fresh paint will always entice buyers!

If possible replace any dark curtains with lighter ones, just to make the room appear lighter and larger.  Try to lighten your hallways; using mirrors to reflect light is a good idea! 

Give your property a good clean inside and out, and finish any incomplete DIY jobs. Eliminate pet odors, dust and grime, if any. First impressions do count.

Make sure that the garden and outside area of your home is also as clean, de-cluttered and well maintained.  Hedges should be cut, the lawn should be mowed and the garden beds, if any, should be tidy. Try to pull in some garden furniture to enhance the looks of your otherwise dull-looking garden.  

On the day of visit, add small details to your property to create a welcoming atmosphere.  Vases with fresh flowers, scented candles and a fire burning in the grate are all welcoming and will pique your visitor's interest in the property.