The past two years has seen a plethora of headlines discussing the housing crisis and its impacts on local communities across the country. While this hasn't been a major issue for Fort Thomas it is one that has created some problems in isolated cases across our community.
A recent search of the Realty Trac database of homes indicate that as of Friday July 16th there were 25 foreclosures in Fort Thomas. The 25 properties include 4 bank owned properties, and 11 in pre-foreclosure. Twenty-five properties is not enough to have a real negative impact on housing prices but what about the other social impacts of having vacant homes next door or down the street?
These social impacts are more pronounced in more urban, higher density areas as these vacant properties become a haven for drug or other illegal activity. These are not the social impacts Fort Thomas must face down but properties that go unmaintained are a haven for rodents and create an eye sore for the entire street with uncut lawns and other maintenance issues.
As it relates to these unintended consequences, I ran across an article from American Banker magazine that talks about a joint initiative to help municipalities with these issues:
An initiative designed to keep better track of vacant properties, and in turn, alleviate the mortgage industry from code violations, is making headway. The MBA Vacant Property Registration Mers Initiative was established in January 2009 and since that time nearly 550 cities and government organizations around the country have signed up to participate.
The MBA Vacant Property Registration Mers Initiative enables cities to access the Mers database for free and see who the titleholder and servicer of the property is as well as the property preservation company and the point of contact. This information has helped foster better communication between city code enforcement officials and servicers.
The committee was established to address concerns over the patchwork of city ordinances that sprouted in response to the growing volume of vacant properties across the country. Frustrated with the difficulty in contacting parties responsible for abandoned properties, and the resulting blight and safety issues they caused, nearly 450 municipalities have enacted ordinances, each containing different regulations and fee structures. Companies like Merscorp were forced to act as fines for violations in some cities escalated to as high as $1,000 a day.
In a somewhat related note, the state of Kentucky recently held their property tax rate at 12.2 cents per hundred.