South City maintains register of vacant homes

South San Francisco is keeping an eye on dozens of vacant homes to make sure they don’t fall into disrepair and bring down local property values.

Six months ago, city leaders passed an ordinance requiring banks and real-estate agents to notify the city when a home is abandoned or foreclosed upon — so far 50 houses have been registered.

South San Francisco Fire Marshall Luis DaSilva said proper maintenance is needed for all homes, whether or not someone lives there.

“We want to be sure these homes are properly maintained to protect the values of all homes,” DaSilva said. “If a window is broken or weeds are out of control, it needs to be fixed.”

Since July 2008, South San Francisco homes have decreased in value by 10 percent. According to MDA Dataquick, the median home value in South San Francisco was $530,000. This July the median home value is listed at $472,000.

The ordinance South City officials approved in March also requires property owners to pay an annual fee of $125 for the city to keep an eye on the condition of the property.

“As we do other inspections, we drive around and check on these properties,” DaSilva said.

The ordinance in South San Francisco is similar to others throughout the country, according to Michelle Kersch, a spokeswoman for Lender Processing Services, Inc. — a company that services abandoned homes.

“As a service provider, we have processes in place to ensure we are following each city’s requirements,” Kersch said.

There are an estimated 86 homes in South San Francisco that have been taken from homeowners by banks, according to the real estate Web site www.foreclosure.com. Another 300 homes are in preforeclosure stages.

The city subscribes to databases that notify them when a home is being foreclosed upon, according to DaSilva.

When code enforcement officers receive notice, he said, they begin making contact with the lender or bank, which owns the home, to get the property registered and discuss maintenance.

Code enforcement officers routinely visit abandoned and foreclosed properties to check for break-ins, vandalism and even overgrown weeds, DaSilva said.

DaSilva said though there are foreclosed and abandoned homes in South San Francisco, they are not as common as in parts of the Central Valley, where entire blocks faced foreclosure at the start of the housing boom.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com
 

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