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What Foreclosures Cost the Community

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By Jennifer Dixon

(MCT)—The effects of a home foreclosure extend beyond the family losing its property. The costs—emotional and financial—extend to neighbors, communities and others, though estimates vary.

Lender: The Joint Economic Committee of Congress wrote in 2007 that foreclosures carry an average cost of about $78,000, while preventing a foreclosure costs about $3,300. Most of the expense ($50,000) is borne by the lender, which takes title to the home and must find a buyer.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said costs to lenders include lost principal and interest payments, tax and insurance on the property, maintenance and real estate commissions when a home is sold.

Homeowners: The congressional report put the average cost to homeowners at $7,200 for lost equity, moving expenses, legal fees and the like. They will likely take a hit to their credit score, which can affect jobs because some employers check credit scores before hiring or promoting workers. Lose a home, and you also lose the tax advantages of owning a home.

Local government: Communities can lose anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $30,000 on foreclosed homes, according to a study by the Urban Institute. That includes lost property taxes, unpaid utilities and costs for upkeep or demolition of a property. Vacant properties also can mean lower property values, cutbacks in government services and a rise in crime and blight.

Neighbors: Particularly for close neighbors, studies show a single foreclosure can lower home value anywhere from 0.6 percent to 1.8 percent. The Center for Responsible Lending put the average neighbor dollar loss at $5,800 to $8,700.

(c) 2011, Detroit Free Press.

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