The small, well-kept home in Lakemore fell into foreclosure in May 2004.

And then again in August 2006.

And yet again in October 2010.

Each time, a separate homeowner failed to pay the mortgage, was hauled into court by a lender and lost the property.

What are the odds?

Probably better than you think.

A Beacon Journal investigation has found that 1,026 properties in Summit County have been foreclosed more than once in the past 10 years. Eight homes topped the list by being foreclosed three times, according to an analysis of Summit County Fiscal Office records.

For a community struggling with high foreclosure rates and a large number of vacant properties, it’s a disturbing discovery. Once homes start down the foreclosure path, they’re more likely to fall into and remain in disrepair — if they’re not already a blight in their neighborhoods.

Not surprisingly, the problem involving multiple foreclosures on the same property is centered in Akron, where 816 of the homes are located.

Barberton came in a distant second with 48, and Cuyahoga Falls was third with 27.

“We know this is happening statewide and is happening across the nation in weak housing markets,” said Alison D. Goebel, associate director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center in Columbus. “Generally what we know is that the properties that have had multiple foreclosures are the worst of the worst.”

Fulton Street case

Dolores Martyn, 78, who has lived on Fulton Street in Akron near the former Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. headquarters for more than 50 years, would agree.

She and her neighbors watched as the two-story house at 145 Fulton St. fell into disrepair and ultimately sat vacant. It also, Martyn is certain, served as a brothel at one point.

But she and others had no idea the property had been foreclosed multiple times.

Once in September 2005. Again in August 2008. Again in December 2012.

The city of Akron, which now owns the land, has torn down the home. Today, it’s nothing more than a grassy lot.

“It had been rundown for years,” Martyn said. “It was time for that one to go.”

A vacant lot is a common sight in the neighborhood.

“I can sit right here in this chair and see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 houses torn down,” Sam Prew, 63, said as he sat on his porch and pointed to the vacant properties around his home.

The Beacon Journal visited the eight properties that were foreclosed three separate times. Seven are scattered around Akron; the other is in Lakemore. Two of the homes had been torn down.

They were in decent condition — at least from the outside appearance. But all the Akron properties were in struggling neighborhoods.

One on Lucille Avenue in the North Hill neighborhood had a giant hole covered by two sideways doors in the front of the house.

Coincidence?

In the majority of the cases, the foreclosures appear to be a coincidence. A homeowner had bad luck, and then so did the next homeowner who bought the property.

In some cases, banks foreclosed because the mortgage wasn’t being paid. In others, the government foreclosed because the taxes weren’t being paid.

The newspaper also found some names — both individuals and companies — popping up again and again on different foreclosed properties. These individuals and companies owned many homes that were foreclosed.

It’s part of a troublesome trend involving people buying properties as an investment and then not being able to pay the mortgage or taxes, experts said. In some cases, they abandon the homes after realizing how much money it would take to rehab them.

It’s unclear how widespread that problem is.

Some examples

Maynley Investments Inc. of Akron had 16 properties foreclosed in Summit County last year, according to county fiscal records. Venture Capitol Holdings of Akron and SEG Commercial Corp. of Mission Viejo, Calif., each had 13 foreclosed.

Ray Maynard, 56, owner of Maynley Investments, said he bought his first investment home after high school. He estimated that he had more than 90 properties in his heyday as a landlord.

But Maynard, who said it was his full-time job maintaining the properties, said the recession did him in.

“I made it all the way until May of 2010,” he said in a telephone interview. “A lot of people didn’t make it that far. I was in it for 35 years. It was my life.”

He said he got into trouble because he rolled cash back into fixing his properties and also tied up his credit lines.

He also said he let some tenants slide on rent when they lost their jobs or benefits, and that hurt his financial bottom line.

He now drives a delivery truck.

Maynard said he watched as some investors started buying up homes thinking they would fix them and flip them for a profit.

“These guys thought they could drive around in a Cadillac and thought they could make all this money,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys come to me and say, ‘How did you do it?’ It was hard work.

“They thought they could come in and get rich quick, and then it didn’t work out that way.”

The Beacon Journal visited the address of Venture Capitol Holdings, a home on Cotter Avenue. An elderly man who answered the door said he didn’t know anything about the foreclosure issue and referred questions to a man who wasn’t there.

A message left asking for comment has not been returned.

The newspaper also mailed a letter to SEG Commercial at the address on tax bill records, but it was returned and stamped “Return to Sender Not Deliverable as Addressed Unable to Forward.”

SEG Commercial has been suspended from doing business in California, according to its secretary of state’s website. The company’s California real estate license also expired in August 2012.

SEG still owns 133 parcels within Summit County, according to fiscal records. The vast majority of those properties are vacant and facing a pending tax lien sale, a process that can lead to foreclosure. All the properties also are tax delinquent.

Rental properties

There has been another negative result of investors jumping in and buying so many properties, said Dave Vaughan, executive director of Neighborhood Development Services in Ravenna.

Ravenna turned from 54 percent rental properties to 77 percent rental after the foreclosure crisis, he said.

“Homeownership is the backbone of any community, and it’s a tragedy what has happened,” Vaughan said. “And if you get investors who are doing nothing more than slapping some paint on it and renting it out, that’s even worse.”

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com.