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Foreclosure Vandals Run Wild

By Todd Levinson Published 07/8/2010 | Real Estate
One can barely  glance at a newspaper,  TV screen , or web page these days, without coming across yet another story about  property foreclosure. There are  some genuinely heartbreaking tales, where unfortunate folk have become the victims of circumstance, and there are others that are, frankly, parables of sheer greed and arrogant shortsightedness.

One thing is for sure,  the situation is intensely critical, and many Americans are having to make serious adjustments to their once comfortable lifestyles. Some people feel that all they can do is walk away from their debt-ridden house, while others battle on, in  a grave attempt to hang on to the family home. And there are those few, who are out on their luck, and feel that everybody else is at fault. If they're going to give up their dream home, well, nobody else is going to get their hands on it.

Unfortunately, a small percentage of people, who can no longer afford to pay the mortgages that they quite happily signed up for, and often refinanced, are of the opinion that vandalism is an acceptable way to show their discontent. Now, as indefensible as it clearly is, one can at least see why the desperate and impoverished may  wish to strip a house of sellable fixtures and fittings, despite the fact that it is unequivocal theft. But to simply destroy and damage a property is utterly reprehensible. Not only does it demonstrate an absolute lack of clarity, but it also potentially deprives the market of sellable homes for first-time buyers, or those scrambling back onto the property ladder.

Whatever your feelings about the whole housing situation, surely this is just plain vandalism, goaded by little more than pure spite and hatred. Frustrated with their situation, some foreclosure victims have filled water pipes with concrete, smashed windows, put holes through walls and damaged flooring. One disgruntled defaulter recently found himself in court after he decided that the bank shouldn't take ownership of his house. He rammed his former home with his SUV, causing severe structural damage to the building. Unfortunately these people show little regard for their neighbors, who have to live amongst the aftermath of such behavior, and as a result may see their own home values depreciate.

And while some ex-householders wreak havoc before departing their repossessed homes, others leave theirs intact but unfortunately, often at the mercy of vandals and thieves. Indeed, one Californian foreclosed property, priced at $13 million when built, has been practically stripped bare of its luxurious fittings and now has an armed guard protecting what's left of it. Less high profile houses are targeted by those in search of copper piping and such, or bored teenagers seeking a place to throw a party.

Of course, the human cost of the current foreclosure epidemic is almost unfathomable, and the results will be felt for many years to come, but if we want a chance to rebuild some of the many impacted communities around the country, we will need to find a way to preserve the vacant homes, so that they may soon be lived in again.

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