Senior Planning with




Dwight Puntigan

Real Estate - St. Peters, St. Charles, entire St. Louis metro area

This was in an email from Zillow.  Many of the subdivisions that the builders created with economical energy efficient  homes are purchased by younger families that are growing.  This is a cycle that raises the kids and ages the parents.  As this happens empty nests are created.  The neighborhood goes through downsizing and once again there will be younger families moving in.  As the neighborhood goes through its diaper to diaper stages some areas change in other ways also due to economic situations.  That is why I included this article that explains some of those situations.


Vacant Homes Plague Neighbors

Posted: 09 Oct 2012 10:32 AM PDT

By Teke Wiggin

Deborah Jackson in front of her Chicago home.

The vacant home next to Deborah Jackson’s house has been an eyesore and magnet of blight for much longer than the Chicago homeowner would care to remember.

The roof of the empty townhouse, which is connected to Jackson’s, is shredded and caved in, causing water to leak through Jackson’s walls. Overgrown bushes and bramble peek over the property’s 4-foot fence, and possums and stray cats — instead of a nice family — live inside.

The derelict property, which has been vacant for the better part of 15 years, even appears to pose safety risks. Jackson’s granddaughter was once struck in the face by a detached piece of the home’s roof; sometimes trespassers pay unsettling visits; and the home is infested with snakes.

“Anytime I see people or have heard people, I would always call the police,” she said. “I’m looking at a jungle out here. I can’t sit on my patio. My grandkids don’t want to visit me because of the snakes.”

Unfortunately for Jackson, it’s not the only vacant property in close proximity that causes the 59-year-old schoolteacher distress. The home to her left and the two directly across the street from her in the foreclosure-ravaged South Side Chicago neighborhood of Pullman are also unoccupied.

Jackson’s story captures the heavy toll that vacant homes can take on their neighbors’ quality of life, and, at the same time, it highlights a reality that is galling to residents in hard-hit areas: Many such properties are often left to deteriorate by banks.

Foreclosure nation

The neglected yard next to Deborah Jackson's home.

Since the housing collapse began, about 4 million Americans have lost their homes to foreclosure, resulting in a persistent glut of vacant homes on the market. Banks and other investors have managed to whittle down this supply somewhat in the past two years.

But according to online foreclosure marketplace RealtyTrac, there are still about 532,000 homes in the possession of banks or government-sponsored investors, and most of them are vacant and not listed. In addition, many of the 950,000 homes that RealtyTrac says are not yet repossessed, but still in some stage of foreclosure, have already been vacated.

The spotlight is usually on the economic impact of vacant homes: their tendency to drag down prices by selling at steep discounts and bloating housing supply. But sometimes less explored are the intangible effects of the empty properties on neighboring homeowners.

Magnets of blight and crime

Ed Jacob, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, said vacant homes can burden neighbors — some of whom are teetering on the brink of foreclosure themselves — and even put them in harm’s way.

Snakes and other pests have infested the yard of the abandoned home.

“They become magnets of crime. They’ll get stripped of all their copper,” Jacob said of the vacant properties. “People use them to stash their drugs. It’s a huge psychological effect on homeowners who are hanging on.”

Jackson is no stranger to this phenomenon. Thieves looted a neighboring abandoned property to her left — a different home than the one that’s infested with snakes. Authorities later told her that there was a danger of a gas explosion happening at the home because the burglars had removed the furnace.

“They took everything that wasn’t nailed down,” she said.

Vacant properties can cast such a dark cloud over their communities that, when those homes are finally purchased, it’s sometimes cause for celebration.

Ihsan Atta of Brookfield, WI, recalled living next to a vacant home for months that was teeming with rodents and had overgrown bushes. People living in the neighborhood had become so put off by the decrepit property that when an investment firm snapped it up recently, neighbors rejoiced.

“One neighbor went by— I thought she was so happy, she was going to kiss me,” said Marty Boardman, chief financial officer of Rising Sun Capital Group, the home investor that bought the property.

Are banks to blame?

The blight of vacant properties is often the fault of the financial institutions that own or oversee them. Those financial institutions — whether it be banks or government-backed organizations such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration — sometimes fail to keep up on the properties’ maintenance.

“Often that means that the lawn’s not being mowed and maintenance isn’t being done on the property, and so it’s just going to be an eyesore in the neighborhood,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of  RealtyTrac.

Financial institutions sometimes turn a blind eye to vacant properties in their portfolios because they either don’t want to pay or can’t afford maintenance costs, experts say.

Labeling some financial institutions “slumlords,” consumer advocates and local governments have tried to hold their feet to the fire.

The City of Los Angeles brought a lawsuit against Deutsche Bank and U.S. Bancorp for allegedly failing to maintain some of their repossessed properties. Also, the National Fair Housing Alliance filed complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development against U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo for allegedly neglecting repossessed properties concentrated in minority neighborhoods.

If financial institutions sold foreclosures quickly, such properties would have less of a chance to grind on neighborhoods. But according to RealtyTrac, a repossessed property takes an average of 195 days to sell. And that’s after the average 378 days that a home takes to be repossessed by a bank, a period during which the home may be vacated by its former resident.

“Banks don’t know how to sell houses. They’re not very good at it,” said Boardman, whose company flips 30 to 50 homes a year. He pointed to a recent deal in which, he said, it took Chase two months to find an employee who actually had the authority to approve a sale.

‘My hands are kind of tied’

Jackson said that she recently convinced the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation to clear debris out of the snake-infested backyard of the abandoned property that abuts her home, a job that she said took three hours for 11 men to complete.

Ideally, either a bank or the city will repossess the home and rehabilitate it. Public records suggest that the home has not been repossessed yet, according to RealtyTrac. But that’s out of Jackson’s hands.

Meanwhile, she’s tried to contact banks tasked with caring for some of the other four vacant homes neighboring her so she can nudge them into tending to the properties. But that’s proved impossible so far.

Two of the vacant homes — much like 80 percent of all repossessed properties in the U.S., by RealtyTrac’s measure — are not listed, so she can’t identify their owners.

She said only one of the four vacant homes surrounding her has a for-sale sign, but no one has answered calls from her or her neighbors when they have dialed the phone number on it.

She’s also tried to determine the other properties’ owners by searching public records, but she has been unable to identify some of the deed-holders and unable to reach the others.

Many concerned neighbors, as well as capable buyers, have hit the same roadblocks, experts say. Bureaucratic ineptitude, profit-driven asset-management strategies and the overall complexity of a securities market where mortgages once traded hands like hot potatoes are all to blame.

Despite the challenges, Jackson said that she is determined to reach the owners of the blighted homes that have tainted her neighborhood for years.

“But right now my hands are kind of tied,” she said.


AOL Real Estate: Your go-to source for real estate advice, news and listings.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow


What is probate?

Answer : It is the court process whereby certain assets titled in the name of the deceased are transferred to his or her beneficiaries. This process takes place in the Probate Division of the Circuit Court – usually in the county in which the deceased permanently resided at the time of death. The Probate Division has been established primarily to protect the rights of one’s heirs, beneficiaries under a will and creditors, and to assure the orderly transfer of property.

What is meant by the term “intestate” ?

Answer : When one dies leaving a will, we say that the person died testate. If one dies without a will, the person is said to have died intestate. In the situation involving no will, the beneficiaries are the individuals named under Section 474.010 of the Missouri Probate Code.

Is there a time limit when I should get the will on file with the Probate Division?

Answer : Yes, you need to file the will or if the deceased was intestate, to get an estate opened within one year from the date of death. If more than one year has elapsed, then you need an attorney to file a Petition to Determine Heirs.

Once an estate is opened in the Probate Division, how long does the probate take?

Answer : The earliest that an estate may be closed and the assets distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries is approximately 6 months after the opening of the estate. However, it is unusual for all administrative duties to be finalized within that period of time. A good estimate for most probate estates is 7 to 10 months from the beginning to the closing date.

What are the expenses incurred in the administration of a probate estate?

Answer : The expenses usually encountered in the average estate fall into four main categories: (a) bond premiums for an indemnity bond to be purchased by the Personal Representative (also commonly referred to as executor) unless waived by the will, by all the beneficiaries or sometimes, by the Probate Division; (b) publication costs for two notices during the administration of each estate; ©) court costs and (d) fees to the Personal Representative and Attorney.

How much are the Personal Representative and the attorney’s fees?

Answer : The fees paid are based upon the size of the estate and the amount of work performed.
Section 473.153 sets forth a minimum fee schedule for the Personal Representative and the attorney. These fees are based upon a percentage of the value of the personal property administered and of the proceeds of all real estate sold under order of the probate court. This percentage is based upon a graduated scale as follows: 5% of the first $5,000; 4% of the next $20,000; 3% of the next $75,000; 2.75% of the next $300,000; 2.5% of the next $600,000 and 2% of everything over $1,000,000. Frequently, family members appointed to serve as Personal Representative will waive their claim to fees.

In smaller estates, the statutory minimum fee will not be enough to compensate the lawyer for the work involved. The lawyer may suggest an alternative, such as payment for work done on an hourly rate or perhaps a higher percentage than that provided by the statute.

If the deceased did not leave detailed records regarding his or her assets, how can the Personal Representative find out about the assets?

Answer : Once appointed by the Probate Division, the Personal Representative has a specified period of time to file an Inventory listing those assets owned by the deceased and subject to the jurisdiction of the Probate Division. However, if the Personal Representative believes that someone may be hiding assets or may have improperly disposed of them, the Personal Representative can file a Petition to Discover Assets against those individuals who may be holding/hiding the assets. Keep in mind that banks and brokerage houses are generally very cooperative in providing information to a Personal Representative so a Petition to Discover Assets would rarely be filed against a bank or brokerage house.

Are records in the Probate Division open to the public?

Answer : Yes. This is one of the reasons that individuals with substantial assets will frequently dispose of their assets through a revocable living trust.

What is the difference between “supervised” probate administration and “independent” probate administration?

Answer : Supervised administration is closely monitored: the Probate Division reviews and approves many actions of the Personal Representative and audits the annual accountings (also called settlements). Independent administration is more informal and eliminates the need for supervision by the Probate Division. An estate may be “independently” administered if so provided in the deceased’s will or if the beneficiaries consent.





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Some people talk about financial planning, estate planning, and so on.  I feel that it is LIFE PLANNING.  Lawyers, insurance agents, accountants, security licensees. And now here I am a Realtor.  We all have a worthwhile niche to fill along the way, with no one putting the whole thing together.  It takes a team of professionals that communicate with each other and the client.  The family doctor, the family banker, and so on, used to provided the professional services to the family.  The family and the professionals all were willing to be part of a larger family.  We all need professionals to tell us what we need to know as opposed to us knowing the right questions to ask.  I do not always know enough to ask the right question.  If you have worked with someone that has done well by you or has needs for professional service, Please tell me with this feedback form.






Dwight Puntigan - Principal Realty Group

1014 Country Club Road
St. Charles, Mo  63303
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