Thursday, October 13, 2011

Foreclosures: Drugs, Sex, and dead bodies?

When Jim Morrison was singing about taking it higher, his followers were toking out in woods and buses, but today's stoners have a new venue for getting high, your foreclosed home.  In a very interesting link from Progress Illinois, there are claims, by the coalition that is trying to take back chicago, although I am not exactly sure from whom they are taking, that foreclosed homes are havens for crime.  I don't think it is far fetched that a vacant home makes for a good hide out.  I remember as a kid, my buddies and I planned a night where we were all staying at each other's house, like mom would never find out.  A storm came up and an abandoned house became our refuge until the police escorted us home.

With the significant deleveraging that is occurring in the housing markets and has occurred for the last three years, there is a dearth of vacant homes.  Many cities have passed ordinances that require homeowners to mow the lawn, take out the trash, and maintain the property, mine included.  Some though, have stepped up the regulation to specify foreclosed homes that must meet this standard or else.  Banks like Bank of America, CITI, Chase, and even smaller lenders like Aurora FSB, fka Aurora Loan Services, LLC and Nationstar have properties that are blighting our communities by having over grown lawns and such.

The homes have become places for drug dealers and users to congregate.  The homes have become places where teenagers gather to drink and commit debauchery.  There have even been those that have committed crimes such as rape and murder that find these foreclosed homes to be safe havens because the banks aren't maintaining the properties.

It makes sense to this blogger that the banks should be required to do more than simply foreclose and sit on the immense shadow inventory of homes that it has.  If you are unfamiliar with shadow inventory, it is the supply of homes held by banks but not being marketed for resale, check this article out for more information.  This shadow inventory is not creating any wealth, it has no utility, no value, and in fact it is dragging down home values and promoting crime.  Cities should pass ordinances requiring maintenance, and if the maintenance does not occur, fines should be issued.  If Bank of America didn't like losing 50% of its value over the last 10 months, it would hate this even more because it won't be taken any higher.