By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor
Vacant homes in northeast Ohio have led to a dramatic drop in regional property values. Foreclosures, irresponsible banks, investment firms and individuals who abandoned their distressed properties have all played important roles in creating a problem that affects the entire area.
Jim Rokakis, former Cuyahoga County Treasurer, believes that the number of condemned homes and buildings in northeast Ohio has reached 30,000–bad news at a time when federal neighborhood stabilization funds, used to demolish condemned properties, are close to running dry. Local lawmakers say more federal demolition funds are needed to stop the dramatic drop in northeast Ohio property values.
Vacant homes are producing crime and safety hazards, further dragging down property values. And northeast Ohio could lose millions of dollars in property tax revenue over the next three years if homeowners demand lower taxes during 2012 reassessments due to the drop in property values.
House sales in northeast Ohio were down 8.6 percent from September, with the uncertain economy still affecting home buyers. As a result, house prices also decreased, and while they may not be dropping as fast as they did during the recession, economists expect them to continue their downward drift well into next year. According to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, local prices dropped 1.2 percent from August to September.
All this is despite several improving factors, such as rising rents, new job creation and high affordability conditions. The city of Cleveland passed two new laws designed to hold irresponsible property owners accountable for their condemned homes. But more federal demolition funds are needed to stop spiraling property values.