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Do abandoned houses affect property values?

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Aug. 29, 2001
Opinion is divided among Meridian real estate agents on whether abandoned houses lower the values of nearby homes.
Local agent B.J. Lewis is trying to sell a house at the corner of 29th Avenue and Ninth Street, next to and across from two abandoned homes. He said the buildings have not affected the sale.
Two other real estate agents, Tony Winstead and Robert Corey, have different opinions. Winstead said abandoned homes affect property values to a degree, while Corey said they definitely reduce property values.
Despite the different opinions, one thing is certain: Meridian's growing number of abandoned houses is creating a major eyesore. A tight budget next year could leave Meridian without enough money to remove abandoned buildings now slated for demolition.
Vacant buildings increase
Winstead, co-owner of Winstead Realty, said the number of abandoned houses in Meridian appears to be rising possibly because houses and neighborhoods are getting older.
Older homes are harder and more expensive to maintain, he said, decreasing in value as they deteriorate. "People don't build nice, new homes in an area where the majority of the homes are $20,000," he said.
Abandoned homes are not a major factor when selling property, Winstead said, "but any detrimental item next door to a house would affect it in some way."
Property values threatened
Corey, co-owner of Pigford and Corey Realtors, said his agency deals more with property in newly-developed areas. But he said he believes abandoned houses lower property values.
Lewis said that another house on 29th Avenue, near the one he is selling next to an abandoned home, has been for sale the past six months. He said the house could be sold soon.
Lewis said that abandoned houses haven't caused his clients to reduce their sale prices and haven't caused homes to remain on the market longer than the four- to six-month average.
Lewis said people may "get used to" the state of disrepair in their neighborhood. Then, he said, they stop complaining to neighbors and city leaders.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.
Eliminating the problem:
Real estate agents B.J. Lewis and Tony Winstead suggest these ways to reduce the number of abandoned houses and increase property values.
Teach property management in high school.
Buy, repair and then rent abandoned homes.
Donate vacant lots to Habitat for Humanity for use in building new homes for the poor.