Community Foreclosure Mitigation Toolkit: Step Four

Impact to Neighborhoods
Foreclosures are not only devastating to the homeowner, but can also be destructive to neighborhoods and communities, especially when they happen in large numbers and in a concentrated area.

Research suggests that foreclosures reduce surrounding property values, which in turn can lead to more foreclosures, vacant and abandoned properties, and other neighborhood blight. Foreclosures also tend to be a magnet for crime, including property damage, trespassing, squatting and vandalism.

While foreclosure prevention is a critical component of a community foreclosure strategy, equally important is mitigating decline from existing and future foreclosures by protecting foreclosed properties, neighborhoods and the community tax base. The Federal Reserve sponsored Recovery, Renewal, Rebuilding, a series of forums to generate discussion on the aftereffect of the foreclosure crisis and explore solutions for community recovery, rebuilding and preparing for the future.

Identifying Ownership and Registration of Vacant/Abandoned Properties
One common problem faced by cities with vacant or abandoned properties is identifying the person responsible for the property. Often ownership or servicing of the mortgage will be transferred between parties several times over the life of the loan.

  • A title search will identify the last owner of record, and generally some kind of contact information will be available on the title.
  • The local tax assessor can identify the name, address and possibly the loan number of the loan servicing agent on properties where the first mortgage is impounded for taxes and/or hazard insurance.
  • A good starting point for locating appropriate contacts for bank-owned property is the Mortgage Bankers Association website that includes a list of property preservation contacts for numerous large loan servicers from around the country.

A vacant property registration ordinance requiring owners of vacant or abandoned properties to register with the municipality may allow community officials to more easily monitor and inspect the properties and enforce code compliance. Safeguard Properties, a privately held field services company, works with loan servicers to preserve and maintain foreclosed properties. Safeguard provides a list of vacant property registration ordinances for numerous cities around the country.

Neighborhood Stabilization Program
To curtail the decline of communities severely affected by foreclosures, Congress created the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) as part of the 2008 Housing and Economic Recovery Act. The NSP Resource Exchange is a one-stop shop for the information and resources needed by NSP grantees, subrecipients and developers to purchase, rehabilitate, and resell foreclosed properties.