Foreclosed Homes Become a Safety Threat in Southeast United States

Atlantic hurricane season officially lasts from June 1st to November 30th in the U.S. And this year, besides the next big tropical disaster, cities on the coast have one more thing to worry about: foreclosed homes. According to an article by CBS (link: http://wbztv.com/business/hurricane.season.foreclosure.2.1026901.html), foreclosed homes pose a bigger problem than just falling investment values in hurricane-prone areas.

With no one to secure hurricane shutters, clean up debris or even prevent theft and vandalism, foreclosed homes become a liability not only to property values but to the safety of nearby homes and residents should a hurricane occur. Loose roof tiles, unprotected windows, empty garbage cans?all of these can become dangerous projectiles should a hurricane strike the area.

The root of the problem lies in the growing difficulty of tracking down the person or entity responsible for maintaining and securing the property. If the prior owner has vacated the premises, they could be states away. If a bank is set to take possession but has not yet taken title it ?puts the property in a sort of limbo? with the bank not yet caring for it, yet preventing neighbors, community associations or well meaning helpers with threats of trespassing and no legal right to attend to the building.

In some cases, like large, developed areas like Jacksonville, property management companies can be hired by the banks to take care of these foreclosed homes, but other, smaller cities might not have the manpower or funds.

The solution remains a mystery, as even the Florida Division of Emergency Management says securing foreclosures is not a priority. It seems, for now, residents of coastal states like Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia will just have to hope that storms and hurricanes are taking a year off to let the economy and housing market recover.