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More evidence that people are opting to rent instead of own

The percentage of people renting a place to live went up far more in Kentucky than those buying a home between 2000 and 2010, according to U.S. Census data.

The downturn in jobs during the recession and tighter credit were key reasons, several real estate agents said.

Statewide, the percentage of people renting their residence was 16 percent higher than in 2000, while the percentage of owner-occupied housing was up just 5 percent.

There also was a 29.3 percent increase in the number of vacant residential units across the state.

That number includes homes in foreclosure — another reflection of the difficult economic times.

Homeownership down in Kentucky

TheStreet.com has a follow up from the AP:  The 2010 census numbers showed more Kentuckians were delaying their entry into homeownership, a trend that housing experts point to as a sure sign of anxiety about the economy.

The census also found that people who had paid off their mortgages were in 25 percent of all occupied housing in the state, down from 35 percent in 2000. The biggest share of the statewide housing market is occupied by people still making mortgage payments. They live in 757,084 housing units, or 44 percent of all occupied dwellings, versus 521,748 housing units, or nearly 55 percent, in the 2000 census.

Rentals increasing

In a spin-off from the sour economy, Kentuckians are increasingly opting to rent and more housing units are empty than a decade ago, according to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Renter-occupied housing accounted for 31 percent of all homes, the 2010 census numbers found, up from 29 percent in 2000.

Nearly 11 percent of Kentucky’s 1.9 million housing units were vacant compared to 9.2 percent a decade earlier, according to the numbers released last week.

Kentucky’s housing market hasn’t been as hard hit as many other states reeling from the worst housing downturn since the Great Depression. Still, the Bluegrass state has suffered from higher foreclosure rates, falling property value and anemic home construction.

Foreclosures increase, delinquencies down

According to Bizjournals.com:  The rate of foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans in Jefferson County was 2.87 percent for April 2011, an increase of 0.6 percentage point from April 2010, when the rate was 2.27 percent, according to data from CoreLogic.

The mortgage delinquency rate has decreased, however, with 5.8 percent of mortgage loans 90 days or more delinquent, compared with 5.95 percent for the same period last year, the company reported.

The 90-day delinquency rate is as low as it as been since October 2010.

The foreclosure rate for the state of Kentucky as a whole was 2.62 percent in April 2011. The 90-day delinquency rate was 5.18 percent.

Vacant properties on the rise in Louisville

From WFPL.org, also checkout the great visual graphic.  The epidemic of vacant properties in Louisville is growing. That’s one of the many facts cited in the latest annual Competitive City Report from the Greater Louisville Project.

According to the report, in some areas of the city, more than 15 percent of homes and business are vacant. The 2010 Census puts the average for Metro Louisville at 8.4 percent. But it’s hard to measure. As homes are abandoned, foreclosed, sold and destroyed, the count stays fluid.

What is clear is that neighborhoods in the West End have been hit the worst and the population of the suburbs has grown. But Metropolitan Housing Coalition director Cathy Hinko says those two figures aren’t necessarily related. It’s unlikely that a family would be in foreclosure, then move to a suburb.

More abandoned properties in Jefferson County

The entire CJ article is great.

Out-of-state investors are increasingly buying delinquent property tax bills, aided by a state law that makes the practice profitable. This means more money for schools and other taxing districts, but it gives those investors control over fees and interest linked to late tax collections — money other cities have used to restore empty homes.

Banks and tax-debt buyers will sometimes foreclose on a property but then refuse to take ownership, even after buying it at auction. The result is that the legal responsibility for paying taxes and keeping up the property stays with the previous homeowner, who may have already abandoned the home.

Mayor Greg Fischer said metro government should take a more active role combating vacancies but additional changes in state law may be needed.

To that end, a team led by Louisville Metro Codes & Regulations director Jim Mims is expected to issue proposals to address the problem early next month.

New law to help abandoned properties

As metro government looks for ways to take a more active role, a law enacted this spring by the Kentucky General Assembly and signed by Gov. Steve Beshear should work in the city’s favor.

Newly filed liens by metro government for penalties and costs associated with boarding, grass cutting, demolishing and otherwise caring for private property now take a higher priority for payment.

When the properties sell in foreclosure or otherwise, the government’s costs will be repaid back before the mortgage and all other liens except taxes.

Previously, the government’s costs took a back seat to the mortgage and any other interests that were recorded first. That meant the city rarely recouped its costs.

The change does not affect liens that were on the books before the law was signed, but one immediate impact is more leverage over banks, Mims said.

“Maybe we will contact the lenders, saying, ‘Look, we are getting ready to put a lien on this property and our lien status will be higher than your mortgage status,’ — in hopes that the lenders will say, ‘OK, we will take care of this matter,’ ” Mims said.

“Our mission shouldn’t be to try to generate a bunch of revenue here. It should be to gain compliance and get these properties cleaned up,” he said.  Courier-Journal.com.

Jefferson County Land Bank

The flow of properties was effectively cut off eight years ago when former Mayor Jerry Abramson said his administration dissolved the department’s unit in charge of seizing properties — in part, because of the costs of seizing properties and a glut of parcels already on the city books.

“We reached a point where we were — for lack of a better term — overrun with ownership of vacant lots that we were unable to recycle,” said Abramson, who pushed for the land bank’s creation in the late 1980s.

Metro government hasn’t brought a foreclosure case to the auction floor since 2006, according to a Courier-Journal review of records from the Jefferson Circuit Court Master Commissioner’s office.

Bill Patteson, spokesman for the County Attorney Mike O’Connell, said foreclosing proved to bring in only properties with “little or no return to the public coffer.”

But the increase in vacant properties has brought calls from housing advocates and neighborhood groups to rethink the land bank’s role, possibly allowing it to take in and churn out greater numbers of lots.  Courier-Journal.com.

Abandoned homes on the increase

The problem of abandoned homes worsened from 2000 to 2010, the records show, as foreclosures spiked and banks and investors took control of distressed property. During that period in Jefferson County, vacancies climbed from 6 percent to more than 8 percent, according to the census. And the number of court-ordered foreclosures in Jefferson County has nearly doubled since 2006 to 5,229 last year.

But more than three years after the housing market’s collapse, metro government’s efforts to deal with the problem have stagnated, if not weakened, compared with a decade ago, according to a Courier-Journal review.

Beginning in 2003, city officials stopped foreclosing on abandoned homes because of costs associated with the lawsuits. As a result, the Louisville-Jefferson County Landbank — a clearinghouse for recycling unwanted property — has added one new parcel for every six it has sold over the past eight years and now takes on only donated land.

The city now boards up or knocks down only the worst structures without any long-term solution. That frequently leaves an empty lot that must be mowed at the public’s expense.  Read more from Courier-Journal.