Foreclosures are still a real problem across the country. Many families are still struggling regardless of any “improvements” in the national economy. Foreclosures are almost common these days and are actually a part of the market for people looking to buy a home. Foreclosures can hurt us all when they go into short sale and drive down the cost of the homes in our neighborhood. Empty homes which are being “maintained” by a bank several states away can quickly become an eyesore and further drag the value of your home down.
So what can we do about this? How can we protect our investment? Can the HOA help?
A concerned neighbor emailed me last week with this exact concern. The home across the street is in foreclosure and he has already started to notice a serious lack of maintenance. Aware that the HOA has the power to enforce the bylaws and CCRs as they pertain to maintenance of yards and homes; the neighbor wanted to know if the HOA could fine the bank. We can, but with little effect.
When the board of directors becomes aware of a serious violation of the bylaws or CCRs they may, after issuing warnings, issue the homeowner a fine. In the case of a foreclosure, the bank is the homeowner.
When a homeowner is issued a fine but fails to pay it, the HOA then files a lien against the home. Liens are paid or collected upon sale of the home. If the lien is not paid and fees mount up, foreclosure becomes the last resort for the HOA. This is where we run into problems. The bank holds the primary mortgage on the property. When the home is foreclosed on by the bank and eventually sold, the HOA liens and foreclosure are dissolved. Â Ultimately, the bank could care less. We are a nat biting an elephant.
So what can be done to help protect our home values, keep our neighborhood looking good and lower the risk of crime?
The house next door to me sat empty for over a year. I was lucky as the bank paid a company to mow the grass. When the company didn’t show up for a few weeks I zipped over and mowed the front yard while I was mowing my own grass. No, it wasn’t my responsibility. Yes, It took a few extra minutes of my time. Ultimately my neighbors and I were the ones who were going to suffer if the yard got out of control and nobody bought the property… so I mowed it.
When I put out my spring fertilizer and pesticides, I spread a little extra next door. Again, it wasn’t my responsibility but it helped keep my neighborhood looking good and protected my yard.
While we can’t really do much about empty homes and banks that don’t care about our neighborhood, we can make the decision to do something for ourselves. The HOA can’t force the bank to take care of property, but we can encourage our community to watch out for each other.