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Foreclosure mess is slowly improving older Manteca housing stock

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POSTED June 1, 2012 1:11 a.m.

Here’s a silver lining to the foreclosure crisis: There’s anecdotal evidence it is leading to the improvement of older housing stock in Manteca.

Shortly after the housing bubble burst, a cancerous blight of trashed homes started dotting the landscape in Manteca as well as other cities. The most visible feature at first was dead grass and landscaping. As the foreclosures kept proliferating a good many of them ended up being trashed or their on-the-cheap cosmetic upgrades started crumbling exposing structural issues.

The trashed homes and dead landscaping are obvious. What wasn’t was the lack of attention for years in older homes that left them with pressing structural repair needs or severely outdated features from substandard bathrooms to bad plumbing.

There are numerous examples of homes being foreclosed, taken back by the bank and resold that have been fixed up. Often people couldn’t afford to do the critical ongoing maintenance such as addressing dry rot, roof issues and such because they were hard-pressed to simply make mortgage payments and keep up with other expenses. In the case of some long-term landlords, they milked houses for all they were worth.

A sizable chunk of some of the “upgrades” made to older housing during the boom days of housing were questionable at best in terms of long-term sustainability. Many instances of “blown on stucco” such as frames around windows in an effort to modernize them have proven to be highly susceptible to rapid deterioration and damage.

Many “improvements” during the boom years were more cosmetic than structural.

If you talk to contractors and flip through city building permits, you will find that there has been an explosion of permits issued for things that would be described as anything but sexy.

They run the gamut from replacing electrical service boxes pushing 50 years of age to roofs that should have been replaced 10 years prior.

And the homes that were trashed the worst didn’t get that way over night. They were on a decline for years. The most recent tenants or “owners” that did damage just accelerated the process.

You are seeing a number of instances of people buying homes that are close to tear downs and investing $20,000 to $40,000 to upgrade them. In many cases they are for rentals but there are more than a few that are owner-occupied.

The mortgage mess brought prices back down to earth.

But it also shifted the emphasis to investing on older homes from flash to sustainability.

And that is a good thing.

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