If the Fed won’t fight the foreclosure mess- maybe the people will

While waiting in my second line for a new iPhone yesterday, I saw the front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer (refreshingly- a newspaper with real news on the front page) which had this article:

Price Hill residents sue bank | Cincinnati Enquirer | Cincinnati.Com
A Price Hill group sued an international bank Thursday, saying it forecloses on houses whose owners have defaulted but is refusing to clean up the now-empty properties, hurting area property values.
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Price Hill Will, which buys and rehabs houses to attract more homeowners to the neighborhood, filed suit in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court against Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. and others.

“These homes are not being maintained by the banks after they foreclose on them,” said Ken Smith, executive director of Price Hill Will. His group is a nonprofit economic and community development agency.

The suit accuses Deutsche Bank National Trust of ignoring Cincinnati orders to cut grass and weeds and to maintain the properties.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman said only that the company doesn’t own the properties. Instead, it acts as a trustee for investors who buy the properties. Critics say that stance allows Deutsche Bank to avoid responsibility.

Hamilton County Auditor’s Office records show Deutsche Bank National Trust is the owner of record for the three properties listed in the suit.

Price Hill Will says the bank owned no properties in Hamilton County a few years ago but now is the second-largest property owner in Price Hill, behind only the federal government.

Last year, Price Hill had 300 home foreclosures, the most in Cincinnati…

Which made me wonder- who has the most foreclosed properties in the city? On the West side? On the East side? And, why is it when I drove up Hoover Avenue the other day- I saw a once proud street looking like an overgrown ghost town?

There is a solution to this- make the bankers start cutting the grass and maintaining the properties, and maybe they may slow down on their kicking people out for not being able to pay for the balloon payments, penalties, and other tools they have used to “reclaim” their “assets.”

Way to go Price Hill. Maybe Jeffrey at Daytonology will do one of his awesome geo-data pivot maps to show us who hasn’t been doing our community any favors.

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6 Responses

  1. Anthony July 12, 2008 / 5:01 pm
    I’m not sure how many mortgages you hold, but in Ohio it takes between 12 and 24 months to foreclose and get someone out of a house so that it can be sold to someone else.

    Banks almost always delay “reclaiming their assets” in hopes that the owner will sell the property, bring the loan current, or refinance.

    I completely agree with you that banks should be taking care of properties they foreclosed on. The shareholders of the banks love to take responsibility when the bank makes a profit. They must also take responsibility when the bank is taking a loss.

    Hopefully the citizens are successful in their suit and we will see some of these neighborhoods be cleaned up.

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  2. Jeff July 13, 2008 / 6:58 am
    “Maybe Jeffrey at Daytonology will do one of his awesome geo-data pivot maps to show us who hasn’t been doing our community any favors”

    I dont know anything about GIS,or the kind of computer knowleage required to automatically turn lists into map locations, or even if the Auditors database would permit this kind of mapping by an outside party (I think they can do it internally, though, just by whats on their website).

    I can tell you, based on that fairly basic query tool at the auditors website, that Deutsche Bank holds 118 properties in Montgomery County and that there are over 500 properties on Hoover.

    I can also tell you that Deutsche Bank holds no properties on Hoover.

    But what you said. Back last fall or early winter I was thinking of doinng this for the older part of Twin Towers since that neighborhood has seen a lot of vacany and is of historic signifigance (in my opinion, I know its not a historic district), but it would be painstaking to go this as one would have to run a query street by street.

    Or another way, more to what you are thinking about, is to see what properties in an area are unkempt, then run a search on the property to see who owns it, to ID bad actors. Then run a search on the owner to see if they hold other properties, then do a spot field-check those properties to see if there is a pattern of neglect.

    “I completely agree with you that banks should be taking care of properties they foreclosed on.”

    Huber Heights is a good location to see how a community trys to get a vacant property holder to keep things up. They put signs on the yards saying to cut the grass. I dont know if they have inspectors follow up with phone calls or letters and then fines.

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  3. Jeff July 13, 2008 / 7:08 am
    A real good example of a university doing “activist geogrpahy” or public interest geography is Syracuse, doing this work for Syracuse NY. This program is called “Syracuse Community Geography”

    Check out this website, particularly the links to maps:

    http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/geo/community_geography/index.html

    Welcome to Syracuse Community Geography!
    Working with local nonprofit agencies and community members of Syracuse and Central New York, the Community Geographer uses geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial analyses to create maps that:

    * Raise awareness about important community problems and resources;
    * Inform community and neighborhood planning processes;
    * Support community organizing; and
    * Advocate important community concerns.

    The Community Geographer and her steering committee are committed to addressing community challenges that relate broadly to the themes:

    1. Community and economic development;
    2. Social, environmental, and transportation justice; and
    3. Health inequalities and disparities.

    ….mapping bad actors in the foreclosure crisis would fit right in with that mission statement.

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  4. Name July 13, 2008 / 11:16 pm
    The City of Cleveland already tried this tactic and failed.

    One of the City of Dayton housing inspectors is working closely with banks and their property managers to try to get this under control. It’s called “The Bank Project” and has been fairly successful with the responsible institutions. They may be able to provide a list of top foreclosure filers.

    The other piece of the problem is that banks are now “walking away” from bad mortgages without taking them through foreclosure. If the value of the property is not high enough, they simply write it off and forget about it. This creates the problem of a mortgaged property and no one responsible for it.

    Then the City becomes the default caretaker of all those properties, which is a losing battle.

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  5. greg hunter July 14, 2008 / 4:25 pm
    We need to take over asap!

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