I’m a fan of fantasy. Not the sci-fi kind, but rather the DIY home show kind that portray dreams come true. Take Yard Crashers for instance. Matt Blashaw, a landscaping contractor and a very attractive man, approaches and sometimes stalks, shoppers in home improvement stores. He inquires about their purpose and purchases are, and immediately launches his elevator pitch: “Take me home with you, and in two days you will have a totally new back yard!” The space will be transformed and equipped with top of the line water feature, gazebo or theme of their choice in two days, but in programming time, this magic occurs in 30 minutes. What’s not to like?
Another favorite is House Hunters. Wouldn’t buying or selling property be that much more fun if you only had to choose from three properties? There’s never any hiccup Hubbard clauses and buyers always get the house they want. If there are bidding wars, somehow the featured buyers win out every time! That is true fantasy!!
Television is a great tool for communicating the best scenarios. Once you tune out though, it’s back to reality. For property owners there’s nothing more real than a structure next door that has gone awry. When an owner faces hard times and can’t afford to maintain property, or worse than that, pay the mortgage, buildings like people, show their needs quickly.
Buyers look carefully at neighborhoods for signs of economic health for both commercial or home property purchase – that stands to reason. It’s no uncommon though, for any town to have good and ‘bad’ sections, and mostly what defines the bad, are blighted properties. One example of an entire city succumbing to poverty is Detroit. Photographer Kevin Bauman documented abandoned properties in 100 Abandoned Houses. Bauman’s photography takes the subject of economic demise, which is in and of itself is depressing and presents it in portfolio format. Each house pictured represents a record of a former life, when life itself was better. For history buffs, these buildings are roadmaps to architecture that most likely will meet their fate with a wrecking ball.
Real estate markets can be a saving grace for cities. The same television programs that promote fantasy renovations also promote do-it-yourself projects.
Every property needs regular maintenance to function mechanically. Something as simple as power washing the deck can inspire bigger projects and sometimes the renovation bug catches on, turning a homeowner into an investor willing to rehab slightly distressed properties for profit – hence HGTV‘s onslaught of house flipping programs such as Flip or Flop, Rehab Addict and Income Property.
Historical groups sometimes rally to save commercial buildings of note that linger too long on the market. That isn’t the case for residential housing.When extended unemployment or a health crisis impacts home ownership the results can mean financial devastation. Loss of income or life aren’t the only reasons properties become distressed. It’s anyone’s guess why owners give up caring for their homes, but certainly limited funds are contributing factors.
Signs of the times in Southington,CT such as these empty homes on Savage St., can be seen by drive-bys. A quick web search on Zillow reveals how many REO (real estate owned by banks) properties there are currently on the Southington, CT market. It takes a special someone with deep pockets, a love of renovation and the luxury of time to rescue bank owned real estate.
When blight finds its way next to where you live or work, it’s a stark reality. The proximity to an eyesore property may influence home values or even the likelihood of commercial real estate. People generally like to shop and do business where it’s well populated. One way neighborhoods, towns and cities thrive in any economy is when banks work with owners to modify loans so people can continue to make payments according to their situation. Hopefully the economy improves overall – empty houses and storefronts look lonely without people to care for them.