Typically, real estate investors want to put their money in growing markets that haven't been discovered yet. Metropolitan Chicago may not have the greatest job growth – half the nation's average annual rate – but its housing market is ripe with opportunities. After falling 37 percent from its housing bubble peak, median prices have rebounded less than 4 percent, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller housing price index. The metro area boasts a healthy 36 months' supply of foreclosed and soon-to-be-foreclosed homes and they're selling at a whopping 46 percent discount of other home sales. That's the biggest discount of any of RealtyTrac's Top 10 best metros to buy a foreclosed home, helping Chicago secure the No. 10 spot.
"The Midwest has been doing a lot better," says Ken Fears, an economist with the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Nationally, "it's hard not to be upbeat when you look back, historically speaking. We're at the nascent level of what will be a protracted, slow, but steady growth in the economy."
When it comes to foreclosures, he suggests looking at judicial states – states that involve the courts in foreclosures, which typically slows the process of moving properties to market. The great wave of foreclosures has already peaked in nonjudicial states like California and Arizona. But in judicial states like Florida and New York, a second wave of foreclosed homes is starting to hit the market, keeping prices low and investor interest high.