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Banks Bulldoze Foreclosed Homes

Tuesday, August 2, 2011 posted by Tommi Crow

Bank of America has come up with a new tool to deal with its glut of abandoned and foreclosed homes…. a Bulldozer.

Bank of America, the nations largest mortage servicer, plans to “donate” 100 blighted homes in Cleveland, OH and contribute cash toward their demolition.  The bank has a similar plan for 100 homes in Detriot, 150 in Chicago, with 9 more cities to follow.  Wells Fargo, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Fannie Mae are also considering their own bulldozing programs.

  Getting rid of repossesed homes is the biggest headache for US lenders.  1,679,125 homes ( 1 in every 77) are in some stage of foreclosure as of June.    Lenders feel that no one will buy many of these homes and they”re trying to cut their losses.  Bulldozing the problem away means the banks won’t owe property taxes to our floundering cities and it won’t have to pay for repairs, maintenance and upkeep on the property.  In addition, there are some perks for giving away a house.  The banks get a bunch of tax write-offs and best case… they may even get a pat on the back and some nice PR, too. 

The idea of Bulldozing houses is nothing new.  Although the banks are not blowing up homes for alturistic reasons…I think we can all agree that removing home inventory is good for all of us.  In 2010, Warren Buffet advised that “blow up a lot of houses” was a viable option and similar to ‘cash for clunkers’ auto program.  I always thought bulldozing abandoned homes and returning the land to a raw state was a smarter solution than handing out money in the form of a homebuyer tax credit.   The tax credit cost billions of dollars, put money into the hands of a few people blessed with good timing and did little to reduce inventory.

Bankers, why not take the “TNT” strategy one step further.   Donate unwanted houses to local non-profits vs blowing them up?  Make a call to Habitat for Humanity, for example?   I can’t understand why Habitat is still building new homes, when we can’t get rid of the ones that are causing problems in our neighborhoods.   Habitat needs to change their business model with the times and so do our lenders.  Families, who are in dire need now, wait up to 6+ months for a new home to be built and the cost of building from scratch far exceeds the costs of rehabbing properties, in most cases.       

Just my two cents….

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