It saves them money and helps to eliminate excess housing inventory, but is it really good for the economy?
If you can't sell 'em, demolish 'em. This appears to be a new strategy adopted by some big banks struggling with a glut of foreclosed homes on their books. A new report indicates that some houses are being leveled by bulldozers, rather than revitalized and sold. Is this really a smart strategy?
Lindsey Rupp from Bloomberg reports on the phenomenon. The idea is that a bank donates a foreclosed home and possibly even pays for its demolition. One recent example is Bank of America donating 100 foreclosed homes to a Cleveland-area agency that will revitalize the property for other uses. From the article:
"There is way too much supply," said Gus Frangos, president of the Cleveland-based Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp., which works with lenders, government officials and homeowners to salvage vacant homes. "The best thing we can do to stabilize the market is to get the garbage off."
Bank of America had 40,000 foreclosures in the first quarter, saddling the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender with taxes and maintenance costs. The bank announced the Cleveland program last month, has committed as many as 100 properties in Detroit and 150 in Chicago, and may add as many as nine cities by the end of the year, said Rick Simon, a company spokesman.
The lender will pay as much as $7,500 for demolition or $3,500 in areas eligible to receive funds through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Uses for the land include development, open space and urban farming, according to the statement. Simon declined to say how many foreclosed properties Bank of America holds.
Other servicers involved in such initiatives include other big names like Wells Fargo, JPMorgan, Citigroup, and even Fannie Mae. That's right: the government is indirectly bulldozing foreclosures.