CLEVELAND, Ohio — The number of mortgage foreclosures filed in Cuyahoga County is receding rapidly but left in the wake are thousands of blighted houses that would cost tens of millions of dollars to demolish, a new study says.
At the current pace, the total of new mortgage foreclosure cases will drop to slightly under 7,300 this year, the lowest level in 10 years, according to a study (Read the study) by Frank Ford, an adviser for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute.
Numbers are down even in the outer suburbs, where, counter to the trend, filings had continued to climb before this year.
The report is not without a downside. Ford points out that though the projected countywide total would be about 30 percent below a 2007 peak, it would still be double what it was in 1995, when foreclosures began to spike.
And while a slowdown offers the chance to stabilize real estate markets, Ford says, the county has 26,000 vacant houses, including 16,000 in Cleveland. According to the study, more than half of the Cleveland houses are candidates for demolition that would cost an estimated $83 million.
The report does raise the question of whether banks are simply giving up on property and not bothering to file foreclosure cases. It says keeping blight in check will require continued foreclosure-prevention programs, use of tax foreclosures to claim property for purposes that benefit communities, tough inspections and enforcement and finding more money for demolition.