By: Revanche

Bank-owned properties: coming to a neighborhood near you

July 21, 2008

Part of my flurry of life-rehab has been taking the dog for a walk every day after work. My hours finally get me home before dark these days, and I’ve been doing pretty well with taking her out between 3-5 times a week, depending on whether or not I’ve walked home from the train station.

As she and I meander through the neighborhoods, I count the For Sale signs on some lawns, and note the unshuttered, unblinded, dark-eyed gazes of those abandoned homes. I wonder, whatever happened to those people?

Out of curiosity, I examined the notice posted on the door of one of our former neighbors’ homes. It said that the owner of the home had been foreclosed on, and the renters were given 30 days to move out. We weren’t friends, but I’d seen the family members occasionally, nodded hello when walking the dog as they were watering their lawn. I wonder where they went and if they were able to find affordable and adequate housing elsewhere? The For Sale sign had been on their lawn for several long months, and my guess is that they either couldn’t find a buyer or the renters weren’t willing or able to purchase the home from the owners.

The real estate sign disappeared some time ago and at that point, I assumed it’d sold. Apparently not. I feel like a bit of a bad neighbor, having nary a clue what happened to the folks on the corner while the signs of prosperity, large trucks and SUVs, parties and such, were in ostentatious evidence right across the street from them. We’re quietly tucked into our corner sans claim to wealth, but right across the street from us, and across from the neighbors who quietly disappeared, it seems as though none of the troubles of the economy have remotely touched our neighbors across the street. It’s almost like we’re in two different worlds, and on our side of the street, a house has been claimed by the housing troubles with a most ominous sign: Bank owned property. I’d read quite a few stories in the Wall Street Journal of renters who were losing their homes because the owners of the rental homes were in over their heads, and always felt bad for those poor people. It’s a terrible feeling to be at your landlord’s mercy if you’re month to month, or setting a new lease, it’s even worse when you’re also dependent on their financial stability to maintain your home.

As a renter, that sign reminds me daily that my emergency fund and the down payment fund are critically important. While I have no reason to believe that our landlords are experiencing financial difficulties, they could easily decide to raise our rent beyond my strained budget, and we’d be in hot water soon enough. If nothing else, the down payment fund might have to play a bridging role by supplementing the increased rent until I managed to find cheaper lodgings or had enough to truly consider buying property. That involves complications in and of itself, especially with family and pets, but it’s not impossible, and I want to be be as ready as can be when the time comes.

4 Responses to “Bank-owned properties: coming to a neighborhood near you”

  1. 1001 Petals says:

    Couldn’t you just move into another cheaper rental? I’m guessing they are plentiful right now. Is it not a renter’s market?

  2. Revanche says:

    1001 petals: Actually, I left out an important detail. My current rent is below market rate and that’s what my budget is used to. For a 3 bdrm house with a garage, 3 car driveway and yard for two large dogs I only pay two hundred dollars more than my friend’s 1 bdrm apartment with one parking space in the same city. My other friends pay nearly the same rent as I for a two bdrm apt. So while it may be a renter’s market in that rentals are available, that the rent won’t be as low as what I’m paying now.

  3. Revanche, I wouldn’t worry too much. The rental market is pretty soft right now (a lot of people struggling to make mortgage payments are renting out their houses to try and keep their house), and I doubt your landlord would want to lose you!

  4. Revanche says:

    Paranoidasteroid: I’ll continue to hope so since I really don’t want to deal with the hassle of relocating on short notice, but there’s no harm in planning for the worst.

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