'There goes the neighborhood'? How to mend nearby foreclosures
What can you do about a blighted property in your neighborhood? You have a few options.
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A foreclosure on your block can do more than spoil the view from your window. A foreclosed eyesore can damage the financial health of your household and neighborhood. But there are things you can do now to keep a blighted property from destroying your home equity. (Bing: More advice on how to handle nearby foreclosures)
Be a good neighbor
Prevention makes the biggest difference, says Erynn Crowley, a deputy director of the Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department. If you know a neighbor is headed toward foreclosure, find out what you can do to help maintain the property if they move away. Many municipalities, like Phoenix, have developed resources to help neighborhoods and neighbors deal with the foreclosure crisis.
"We always encourage neighbors to talk to each other, because that's the fastest way going," Crowley says. "Sometimes they aren't aware or they thought they had a tenant who was taking care of it."
To keep one blighted property from turning into two or more, maintain your own property. "Don't get too discouraged just because you have one or two abandoned properties on the block," says Chris Smith, director for Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago in the city's Roseland office. "If every other property on the block is in pretty good shape, chances are the (foreclosed) property won't stay vacant for too long."
Form a neighborhood watch to head off potential problems, says John Anderson, co-owner of Twin Oaks Realty Inc., in Crystal, Minn. "Once the pipes get stolen or it becomes vandalized, it becomes harder to sell and it becomes a bigger detriment to the neighborhood," he says. And always keep the police informed if you see criminal activity.
Speak up, fast
"If (neighbors) see code violations -- a broken window; tall, dry weeds; trash in the yard — any of those things — we recommend they report them as soon as they see them," Crowley says. "You don't want it to sit and get worse, especially if it's a vacant property."
Sometimes an eyesore can turn into a health or safety hazard, with vacant properties attracting squatters or becoming hot spots for illegal activity, such as drug dealing. If you suspect that a vacant or abandoned property poses such a risk, notify authorities immediately. The more folks you can get on your block to complain about an abandoned property, the better the chances something will get done sooner rather than later.
"Everyone on that block needs to call (the authorities) on the same day, within the same hour. And if nothing happens, do the same thing again the next day," says Smith, who adds that with this tactic, at least in Chicago, it usually takes fewer than three days for police to come out and board up and secure an abandoned property. With a single phone call, that same abandoned property could remain open for a while.
If your city doesn't fix the problem foreclosure, Smith suggests calling a nonprofit such as NHS that will work on your behalf to take care of problem properties in your neighborhood.
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Help sell the property
To speed up the sale of the foreclosure, help find a potential buyer. Talk up the property, and your neighborhood, to anyone you know who is looking to buy.
"The best salespersons for an abandoned property on the block are the people that live on that block," says Smith, who often makes presentations to neighborhood groups.
If your area is particularly hard-hit by foreclosures, the eyesore on your block may already be part of the federally funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program, under which municipalities buy, fix up and resell blighted properties. Crowley says some Phoenix neighborhood groups help market NSP properties. In the Minneapolis area, Anderson has seen neighbors banding together to buy foreclosed or NSP properties, fixing them up and reselling them.
What you shouldn't do
Don't waste your time playing detective, trying to figure out who owns the foreclosure nightmare on your block in an effort to get the owner to take responsibility. Foreclosures can take months or more than a year. It's often difficult to pinpoint who holds the deed, Anderson says.
Ask your building-code department, or a similar agency, what you can do legally to help maintain the property, Anderson says. In most cases, they'll give the go-ahead to pick up trash outside the property or mow the lawn. Be sure to get permission first.
Avoid the temptation to sneak onto the property and try to fix it up yourself. "Don't try to do anything on your own," Smith says. "(You) could actually be held liable for anything that goes wrong on that property. You have to go through the proper channels."
It always helps when I have a neighbor that will call and inform me of issues that they see. I have seen good properties go bad fast because of vandalism.
The Neighbors should not be thinking about helping the bank, but rather helping maintain the value of their own neighborhood. Keeping an eye on the foreclosure next door is no different than keeping an eye on the neighbor’s house when they leave on vacation.
Its pretty simple.
If you think that its the mortgage holders fault than you also are the kind of person that blames the 14 year old girl for taking that hit off the meth pipe.
Dont blame the f'n drug dealer, blame the addict.
"Those people that took the loans should take responsibility."
Yep, its like blaming a heroin addict for taking the needle that is handed to them.
Who cares that a handful of bankers, lenders, and home builders stole one quarter of this countries wealth. Who cares that the CEO of Countrywide had to pay a 25 million dollar fine for stealing 150 million?
Blame the sheep that took what was offered.
Who cares that Bank of America had photo booths and spanish speaking reps. to give mortgages to illegal aliens.
"Cities can and should have laws on the books that will result in fines to the mortgage holder for failure to maintain the property."
Who do you think runs the municipal government? Who do you think your representative works for? When the ahole that ran Goldman Sachs, and is part of commodity speculation, is put in charge of the United States Treasury what do you people expect.
Democrat, Republican... It doesnt matter. All politicians are ex businessmen and women. How in the hades do you expect to go to your county government and lobby for laws that penalize banks when the people in charge of your county work for the f'n bank.
Then some of you people decry the idiots who took the loans. Well thats a no brainer. This country is filled with idiots. Of course greedy humans are going to want to live in a quarter million house and there will be evil bankers that will take advantage of idiots who get loans because Barney Frank says everyone deserves a home.
Who cares if he was paid off by Countrywide.
Im disgusted by the short sightedness of my neighbors. People that argue about which crook, Obama or Bush, was the lesser of two evils. Solyndra or Hunt Oil. Take your pick.
It is time for a revolution. Those people sitting in Wall Street are true patriots.