Jun 05

I walk the neighborhoods where are properties are located as often as I can. My walks are in the two to five mile range. It is a good way to combine some light exercise with managerial work.     We also do exterior surveys every spring to set the agenda for our summer efforts.  I try to combine the surveys and walks as much as possible.

You can learn things about a neighborhood on foot that you would never see driving through at 25 MPH. This gives me a more insightful way of checking up on maintenance crews, properties and deciding on properties to purchase. Yes, we are buying again, but that is another story for another day.

I noticed two major things this spring while doing my neighborhood walks/exterior surveys of our properties.

Vacant and abandoned housing

The first is there is a large number of vacant/abandoned/foreclosed properties throughout the Southside (53204 & 53215) that are not listed for sale on MLS and do not have for sale signs.

I began writing down the some of the addresses. When I get back to the office I look to see if they are listed for sale on MLS.  If not I will run ownership on a few of them.

For those not listed on MLS, almost inevitably ownership records show that they are owner occupied.  More times than not they are not registered as vacant buildings with the Department of Neighborhood Services.  Ironically a few had Christmas decorations in their windows.  Many had orange electric company shut off tags on their front doors.

Being a curious lad I look up a few of the listed owners on the court system.  A lot of them show no foreclosure actions naming the listed owners.  Perhaps the owners received notices from their lender and just assumed they were going to be put out on the street?  Who knows.

While my little bit of info gathering during my walks is by no means a statistically correct study, it certainly appears to me that the foreclosure mess is larger that reported and  we are not anywhere near the bottom of the crisis.

Condition of owner occupied housing compared to rentals

The other thing I noticed is if a house is in truly deplorable condition or needs major repairs such as failed roofs or porches,  it is almost always owner occupied or an abandoned formerly owner occupied property .

Inspectors doing fire inspections etc on our rentals will see a couple of blown off shingle tabs or a downspout that isn’t sealed to the sewer and write an order. Yet the owner occupied properties will have failed porches, missing siding, roofs that needed to be replaced five years ago, yet no city orders.

I am not the only one who witnessed this phenomena.  Click here to listen to Mary Hennen, Senior City Assessor’s take on the difference of conditions between owner occupied and rental housing.

We need to assure all properties are held to the same standards by code enforcement, not just rentals.




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