In Merced, ‘A tsunami of bank-owned properties’

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Buckling under a ‘tsunami’ of foreclosed houses, sections of suburban Central California are turning into weed-choked ghost towns, marked by vacant houses and unfinished developments, the L.A. Times’ Peter Hong reports today in the second article in his four-part series on foreclosure in California.

‘We’re experiencing a tsunami of bank-owned properties,’ real estate agent Andy Krotik tells Hong while touring foreclosed houses in Merced. Krotik’s job is to inspect foreclosed houses to make sure they are free of squatters before they are put on the market.

The economic fallout from foreclosures has damped economic activity in the region, Hong reports. ‘There’s just no equity,’ says Mark Torrence, owner of Merced Pools. ‘Most houses are upside down.... It’s over for the industry. I’m done building.’

Even housing developments built as recently as 2006 are showing signs of age and neglect. Hong describes the view from a house built in 2006 at a development that stalled: ' ... a kind of modern-day ghost town. The developer never finished building the neighborhood as demand for new homes vaporized and would-be buyers canceled their contracts.’ The new homes that were built are now ‘ringed by vacant lots and empty houses, and the neighborhood is overrun by dry weeds and brush.’

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Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times