The basics: White male, 53, professional living in a nice neighborhood of Akron.
He was outraged: Two doors away was a house valued at $206,000. The man who owned it had bought it after a fire and fixed it up. Then the owner rented it out and charged $1,500 monthly. He also used the home to secure second mortgages to buy other rentals in Akron. The owner didn’t make mortgage payments for months, so the bank foreclosed. The landlord, angry at the bank, threw out the renters and gutted the home.
“The house was gutted down to where the springs in the garage door were taken, the wall plates, the meter, the water meter, the drop ceiling in the basement,” said the neighbor. “Things were just stripped completely. The woodwork, everything out of this house and the furnace, electrical box was cut off the wall, air conditioning. Then he took a hammer to the house inside, just to beat on it.”
Neighborhood resentment: The neighbors, including the subject of this story, resented what had become an eyesore. He and his wife tried to buy the house at a reduced rate, but banks resisted because, he believes, they preferred to take federal bailout money for the whole mortgage value.
What he did: A part-time remodeler, he bought it out of foreclosure for about $53,000, and fixed it up. The former owner called to offer all of the materials that had been stripped before the foreclosure. Now the home is for sale at $142,000.
What did he do when he saw the house being gutted? “I came in here immediately, called the city councilman. He called the cops and, of course, a lot of policemen live in this neighborhood. There were about four cruisers and they were down there talking to him. The councilman on the phone talked to the [city’s] legal department and came back and said we cannot do a thing. We cannot stop him from doing this. He had a truck down there just gutting the house. It’s between him and the bank.”
Motivation: “Throughout the process of this, I really got consumed with getting this house because of what took place. And the more I educated myself on the banks and bailouts, what their guidelines were, the more I found out, the more upset I got. I didn’t buy this house to make a bunch of money on it. I really bought this house because it was a house I looked at boarded up next to me for two years.”
For the first time since the Great Depression, home values on average have declined. How has this affected your short-term plans, and what are your thoughts about the future of homeownership in general?
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