Meg Michel of Remax Winners says that despite the nationwide home foreclosure crisis, it's a good time to be in the real estate business -- at least in Union County.

Meg Michel of Remax Winners says that despite the nationwide home foreclosure crisis, it's a good time to be in the real estate business -- at least in Union County.

Michel said the local market wasn't affected the way neighboring Franklin County was when a wave of real estate scams took a significant toll on that market.

"We are not suffering nearly as badly in Union County as Franklin County," Michel said. "They suffered terribly in some of the blighted areas by scams run by investors not from the area. Investors would get false appraisals that would drive the price up four to five times what the house was worth, finance it, take the money and run and let the bank have it back. A lot of those people have left the country. But we do not have that problem here."

Michel said there are significant bargains to be found in the Union County market for buyers who don't mind the extra work involved with fix-up projects, such as bank repossessions.

"You will do best if you buy one that needs work," she said. "Everything has dropped a little bit. It's all supply and demand. We don't have a good supply of houses in good condition but we have a lot of houses in bad condition. So the houses in good condition are going at a premium. Where the market overall may have dropped 20-percent, a house in good condition may have dropped only 5-percent. In worst case, when it's in an area where we have an over-supply, maybe 10-percent."

She said that's good news for homeowners looking to sell an existing home and move up in the market.

"You may buy a house for only 40 percent of what it normally would have sold for, so, if you sell and buy, you're going to make out," she said. "Lower interest rates right now will help. We have seen good levels of transactions through our offices. The interest rates are excellent, so this part of the industry is doing well."