Razing Lost-Cause Homes to Stabilize Property Values

I much prefer remodeling to tearing down housing, but sometimes, a bad house is like a cancer that needs to be removed to save the neighborhood and stabilize home values.

That’s the thinking at the Cuyahoga County Land Bank in Cleveland, where foreclosures are so prevalent that banks, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA are willing pay the lender to demolish vacant, foreclosed houses. They’re so beyond repair that it’s cheaper to hit them with a wrecking ball than get them back up to code, according to a report at NPR.

The homes can’t even be sold for a few thousand dollars, which in turn deflates the market and makes it difficult for folks in the area to get a mortgage or sell their home.

What happens to the vacant lots? Some are being transformed into parks, community gardens, or side lots for neighboring houses.

The other interesting thing about this program is its reuse factor, something we’re big fans of here at HouseLogic. The bank’s demolition and vacant lot reuse program works with partners willing to deconstruct homes — taking them apart and recycling the home’s reusable building materials.

The Cuyahoga program involves single-family homes. It might be a bit dicey for cities to use this practice on blocks with row houses. When a wrecking crew takes down a vacant row house, there’s a good chance it could damage the houses on either side. And that could mean a hefty repair bill for the neighboring home owners.

What do you think of this program? Would you want to see something like this in your area?