Jul 5, 2006

A Tale of Two Houses

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Left: Uncut grass and weeds at 3614 Jackman

(Toledo, OH) While the two vacant houses that sandwich him in are “not the worst in town,” Jim Seelye is concerned that they will begin a process of decline on Jackman Road.

“This is how it starts,” he said, motioning to the properties at 3614 and 3602 Jackman, which are located between Sylvania and Hillcrest. “Once they sit for a year or more without occupants they become magnets for all sorts of problems.”

Seelye noted that 3614 Jackman has some new occupants.

“Animals and wasps are setting up shop over there,” he said, noting that he is allergic to bee venom. “How much longer before we get the drug dealers?”
sparrow
Left: A sparrow keeps vigil over 3614 Jackman

The grass at both homes had not been cut this year, and Seelye decided to cut the front grass at 3614 Jackman himself. Both properties have litter and broken windows, and shingles blow off the roof onto Seelye’s yard “whenever a good wind blows.”

Rudy Loffelman is concerned that the properties represent a hazard to nearby residents.

“Not only do these empty places attract vermin, but they also attract children,” he said. “I don’t think it’s too much to ask that people keep up their property.”

Both properties are currently held by banks: 3614 Jackman is owned by Flagstar Bank, and 3602 Jackman by Chase Home Finance. Neither corporation responded to telephone queries by press time.

On the day the ABLE Squad visited, three young children were playing on the porch of the vacant house at 3602 Jackman.

kids at vacant houseLeft: Children playing on porch at 3602 Jackman

“A guy named Greg used to live here,” said one blond-haired young man. “He’s been gone a looooong time.”

The children promised that they would be careful, saying that “we never play in the garage or inside the house.” They were, however, able to describe with accuracy the contents of the house, suggesting that they have been at least curious enough to have looked in the windows.

This article is part of a regular feature I write for the Toledo Free Press called the ABLE Squad - "Abandoned Buildings Looking for Entrepreneurs."

15 comments:

Valbee said...

Mike, just curious as to where you got the information that both houses were owned by banks. AREIS says differently, so now I'm wondering how accurate its information is.

LTLOP said...

It's ironic HM that you posted this today. I can completely empathize with he problem. I was washing dishes and looking at the house next door and smelling the aromas emanating from the house. About a dozen cats, four dogs and a bird. Combine this with the eyesore of her yard, front and back. Oh, did I mention the cat cage attached to the house? Stir in an attitude that there is nothing wrong and you can see it goes nowhere fast. BTW I live a couple blocks west of of Toledo Hosp. so the homes are not cheap. I have been fighting the fight since we moved in 2000 and the city does little, fine her, threaten court and yet no improvement. Some might say its only one or two houses the neighborhood is fine. Well, where does the decline start then?

Thanks Mike for letting me vent a little.

historymike said...

The people listed both said they no longer own the houses, and that AREIS is not up-to-date, Val.

AREIS is accurate as far as money goes, but sometimes title changes take a while to catch up in the system.

historymike said...

Any time, ltlop. I share your concern for keeping neighborhoods from any further slide downward.

Timothy said...

Hate to be the cynical one, but vacant homes that won't sell just highlight that the price of the housing is too high. If they came down on the asking price, odds are they would sell... but no one likes to admit a loss.

Do said...

The price of homes in the area are currently in line with market rate. However, when banks take a home back through foreclosure they tend to want what is owed to them plus the costs they have incurred to pursue the foreclosure.

The problem starts when the owner of the property just walks away. It can take months before the bank is in a position to start court proceedings. Once those proceedings are started it can take a few months up to several years for the final decree of foreclosure. Once that process has been followed, then and ONLY THEN can the house be sold. So, in the meantime, there is a home sitting vacant, no heat or water service, grass growing taller, windows being broken, etc. The banks are totally uncooperative and insensitive to neighborhood complaints. The only thing that gets their attention is a nasty-gram from the city with a fine attached to it. That usually prompts them to contact a management company to tend to the lawn issues.

As for the pricing? When the home first became vacant, it may well have been worth the $80,000 that is owed on it (for example), but now some 2 years later with water damage, mold, roofing issues, foundation issues it is worth $35,000 since it will take that much to fix it back up. It's a vicious cycle and it's quite prevalent in Toledo. If the banks in question were local it would make the process easier, but for the most part these banks are located all over the country.

And valbee -- when you check AREIS on one of these properties, then go to the Online Docket and enter the owner of records name. That's where you will find the bank that is taking it back. But be aware - if you are not the person that held the mortgage they will not talk with you.

Do said...

Also, you will notice in the court docs the price that the bank bought the property back for. Keep in mind that these banks have never seen these properties and could not tell you one thing about them. All they see are numbers.

If you want a more official explanation of the process you can check:

http://www.ohiobar.org/pub/lycu/index.asp?articleid=155

The article ID is 155 at the end of the URL.

Do said...

FYI - the property at 3602 Jackman will be auctioned on July 26, 2006, with a minimum bid of $43,334.00. Appraised value through court appraiser = $65,000.

Side note: In the state of Ohio there is no law requiring a transfer of deed to be recorded. If you hold the deed and don't record it you are only expected to produce the deed if it is questioned in a transaction.

Timothy said...

$43,334-$65,000!?!...that's far more than I'd ever pay for a home of that size (1 story) in that end of town (not the best of locations) with that many issues needing repair (vacant and built in 1924). I myself can't see an asking price of more than $30,000... you'll sink the difference back into the house just to get it fixed up.

Whoever would find their price reasonable, more power to you and good luck at the auction.

And, BTW, you can tell the housing around here is NOT at "market level" because people are selling but nobody's buying... Econ101 tells you their prices are too high.

Maggie Thurber said...

HM - there's a Housing Court that's supposed to handle these kinds of issues - nuisance abatement. Even if the house is owned by a bank, they can be cited by the City's housing inspectors and, like Do says, it can at least compel them to hire a management company to keep it presentable.

Usually, it just takes a complaint to the building inspections dept. by a neighbor to get the ball rolling.

LTLOP said...

Sorry Maggie all I've got to say to that is "Yeah Right". Please read my previous post here and you'll understand my extreme sarcasm. I've been doing that for almost six years to no avail. I have called the following in no particular order: Nuisance abatement, Department of Neighborhoods, Building Inspection, Dog Pound, Humane Society, Health Department. In the previous rant I forgot to mention the pigeons covering the house in droppings or the garage that when opened releases a wonderful aroma and the open pit compost heap where she throws half eaten food and just covers it with a nylon tarp. So, short of agent orange and a few cocktails of the molotov variety the local bureaucracy has done nothing.

Maggie Thurber said...

itlop - you should not have had such a result from calling those responsible. Is the owner elderly? If so, perhaps adult protective services can speak to her? They'll often evaluate living conditions and often have more success with the bureacracy...

I believe you when you say it, but the Health Dept. not taking an interest seems rather unusual...

historymike said...

One refrain that I hear repeatedly from neighbors of these properties is this:

"We call and call the city, but nothing gets done."

Agreed also with Do that banks make lousy owners. Many of them do not retain the services of a propety management firm (more expenses), and they are content to sit on a property until it moves.

Do said...

ltlop - email me please, I'd like to try to help you with this one. I've had pretty good success with a couple others and totally understand your dilemma.

invest4toledo AT bex DOT net

Hooda Thunkit said...

We have a similar problem near the Stranahan.

The neighbors started cutting the front grass when the deliquent "owner" split a couple of months ago, but the back yard hasn't been cut in years.

The jungle is fence high.

Thankfully, the bank taken it over and it will be auctioned soon.