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Money used to fight Clark County drug crisis at risk

Record number of buyers investing in foreclosed Clark County homes

More people, not banks, are purchasing foreclosed Clark County properties at local sheriff’s sales than ever before — something home experts said can increase value in neighboring properties.

“Our numbers are just astounding — we’re turning properties back into productive community properties,” said Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly.

The sheriff’s office monitors the sales of foreclosed properties in the county.

The number of foreclosed homes in Clark County sold at sheriff’s sales is at the lowest in a decade. Foreclosed home sales are down more than 60 percent from 2009 when the housing crisis was at its worst, according to data collected by the sheriff’s office.

The number of homes selling to buyers at the sales is at historical levels, Kelly said, up 171 percent from the beginning of this year versus the same time period in 2015.

Two properties sold to local owners or developers for more than a combined $400,000 at the sheriff’s sale on May 6.

Non-bank buyers have spent more than $2.1 million on local foreclosed properties so far this year, sheriff’s office data shows.

When homes are bought by people and not banks, neighbors often see the benefits, said Tina Koumoutsos, executive director of the Neighborhood Housing Partnership of greater Springfield.

“It’s a win-win for everyone — maybe a first-time homebuyer, maybe it’s someone fixing up a home to be a rental property, but at the very least, they’re not vacant, they’re being repaired, back on the tax rolls and that’s a good thing.”

The Neighborhood Housing Partnership offers homebuyer education classes, down-payment assistance, credit counseling and foreclosure prevention counselors.

Clark County saw 340 foreclosures last year, compared to more than 1,020 in 2009 near the worst of the recession, according to records from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Although the numbers are down, Koumoutsos said they are still significantly higher than numbers the community saw before the most recent housing collapse.

Since the housing bubble burst in 2008, banks had been holding on to properties, Koumoutsos said, buying them back at sheriff’s sales to not lose money from defaulted mortgages.

“One of the things that we’ve seen happen is when the bank gets these houses back, they could sit on them for years,” she said.

Bank-owned homes that often sit vacant have a “huge impact” on neighborhoods, Koumoutsos said, especially home values in neighborhoods.

“Nothing good ever happens in a vacant house,” she said. That means it’s sitting empty or, as the sheriff said, it could also attract crime.

“So when you can have outside buyers buying (bank-owned houses), cleaning them up, moving into them, you’re helping the schools, the neighborhoods, crimes – everything is impacted,” Kelly said.

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