Abandoned houses can be found across the nation in both rural and urban communities of all sizes. In a report released in late 2018 by ATTOM Data Solutions, almost 1.5 million vacant properties could be found nationwide.
Vacant and abandoned houses can have a negative impact on neighborhoods and on the value of your property.
Abandoned Versus Vacant House
A vacant house differs from one that is truly abandoned. In general, vacant properties still belong to an owner but the home/building isn’t occupied.
It also may suffer from neglect as the owner lives out of the area and/or may be experiencing financial difficulties such as bankruptcy and foreclosure. After several months, the vacant house may be considered abandoned.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states,
“In general, a vacant property becomes a problem when the property owner abandons the basic responsibilities of ownership, such as routine maintenance or mortgage and property tax payments.”
The owner of a vacant house still has legal responsibility for the property, but often has no plans to return or maintain it. The owner of an abandoned house typically has forfeited their ownership and rights, and has no intentions to reclaim the property.
How Abandoned Houses Affect Property Value
Generally, the ugliest house on the block is the last one to sell. In many neighborhoods that ugly house is abandoned.
Vacant properties or abandoned houses typically are eyesores and for aesthetic reasons alone, they can lower the property values of neighboring homes. In a report compiled for the city of Topeka, Kansas, researchers found that houses located on blocks without any abandoned properties were valued seven percent higher than those found on blocks with abandoned houses.
Negative Effects Abandoned Houses Have on a Neighborhood
A neighborhood can suffer in several ways if it has vacant or abandoned houses. At the most basic, a home that’s abandoned likely is unsightly.
Its lawn is not mowed, there may be junk in the yard or on the porch, and the house may be in need of obvious exterior repairs. These homes can become problems for the community.
Residents may see an increase in crime with abandoned houses in the neighborhood. It can be common to see higher rates of:
- Trespassing, that can lead to squatters
- Vandalism ranging from graffiti to broken windows
The Abandoned Building Project report from IAAI/USFA states,
“Vacant and abandoned structures are unsightly, attract criminal activity, and are a threat to public safety wherever they exist. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that more than twenty civilians die and 6,000 firefighters are injured while fighting fires in these properties every year.”
When crime rates rise and public safety decreases in a community, it becomes more difficult for owners to sell their homes.
What Can I Do About Abandoned Houses in My Neighborhood?
Homeowners with vacant or abandoned houses in the neighborhood don’t have many options. Because many of these homes are in need of serious repair, it can be too costly and take a long time for renovations. The owner may not be able to fund these repairs and often, the property is in foreclosure.
It’s not uncommon for the government to eventually seize the property when it falls into violations of various federal laws. When this happens, a home auction typically is the solution.
In a home auction of this type, the property may sell well below its estimated value making it attractive to investors and individuals or companies who “flip” homes for sale.
If there’s an abandoned house in your neighborhood and you’re worried about property value decline, you can check with the County Clerk’s office to access property ownership records. If there’s no owner, you may be able to locate the mortgage lender via a public records search.
A foreclosed property, now bank-owned, may become part of a real estate home auction. The latter offers the best potential to get the property sold and begin the often lengthy process of renovation.
Abandoned houses can be negative for homeowners and, unfortunately, there is not much you can do to get rid of them. If you’re ready to get away from these eyesores, look to HomeGo to sell your home minus the hard work and headaches. You won’t miss living in a neighborhood with abandoned houses.