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Patch in Plain Sight: Foreclosed and Forlorn

A Decatur house built during the real estate boom still sits vacant after its owners go bust.

Two years before the housing market imploded in 2008, a builder bought four duplexes and one single family home on Bucher Drive in Winnona Park.

After razing the modest houses, Hairy Dog, Inc. built five two-story houses on the quiet road just east of South Candler Road.

Four of the five homes are now occupied. But the remaining house sits deserted in a sea of weeds with a stack of waterlogged phone books piled on its porch.

The City of Decatur Public Works Department has taped two notices to its windows: a 2009 warning that final inspection and a certificate of occupancy is required and a March 2011 letter notifying the owner that the property’s condition violates city health and sanitation codes.

The house at 125 Bucher is one of more than 13,000 Georgia homes in foreclosure. After the house was completed, Hairy Dog sold it to Housing Group Partners. According to Georgia state corporation records, the company was chartered in 2004 and it was based in Cumming.

Housing Group Partners bought two properties along Bucher Drive: 125 and 131. But the Georgia Secretary of State’s office revoked the company’s charter in September 2010 for failing to file an annual report. DeKalb County land records show that the company used the properties to secure more than $1.2 million dollars in debt.

On April 5, 125 Bucher was sold to RES-GA HGP, LLP for $635,000. The new owner actually is a Miami-based company that is incorporated in Delaware: Multibank 2009-1 RES-ADC Venture, LLC.

Like many distressed properties across the nation, the house at 125 Bucher’s ownership is difficult to identify.

Before Hairy Dog and Housing Group Partners came to Bucher Road, the houses had been transformed from owner-occupied homes to rental properties. Those rental properties became attractive teardowns for aggressive real estate speculators taking advantage of an out of control housing market fueled by easy to get subprime mortgages.

Shari Moore has lived with her husband on Bucher Road since 1990. Moore remembers the old houses and the people who lived in them. Except for the vacant and unkempt home at 125 Bucher, she’s happy with what Hairy Dog built. “It was better than what was [here] because towards the end of the duplexes,” Moore said. “It was just rentals. So it’s nicer – homeowner is better.”

After the house at 125 Bucher was finished a succession of realtors’ signs appeared and then disappeared from the front yard.

“I’ve seen people come and go with it. Like there will sort of be a little flurry and then nothing,” Moore said. “There’s been real estate signs on it. Different ones. I don’t know why the last people took it down.”

Living with foreclosed homes in a neighborhood can be difficult. As the homes sit vacant, their conditions often deteriorate creating nuisances and discord among neighbors who turn to overburdened local officials for relief.

Oftentimes, neighbors like Moore do not even know who owns a foreclosed property. “I’ve heard that it was owned by a bank,” she said.

According to Moore, neighbors complained to city officials about the property’s condition. On March 11, codes enforcement officer Cynthia Hardnett issued a notice that the property’s deteriorated conditions violate several sections of the city’s Health and Sanitation Ordinance.

“Specifically,” wrote Hardnett, the property “has tall weeds and grass in the front, back, and along the sides.” The city’s notice gave the owners 15 days to correct the conditions.

Efforts to reach the property’s owners were unsuccessful. Hardnett declined to comment specifically on the property or the violation notice.

Moore hopes that new owners move in soon: “I would say maybe it is getting to be a concern. Like why is it taking so long? Why isn’t anyone interested in getting someone in there?”

richardpark123 May 01, 2011 at 05:54 AM
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John Haluska May 01, 2011 at 03:45 PM
It is time for neighborhood initiative. The owners of the four healthy homes have a new project. That is the exterior care and maintenance of the fifth. I maintain the lawn of a home two doors down from me in a suburban township near Albany, NY. It takes about 20-30 minutes to maintain. Tha place looks a lot better than if no one takes care of it. I didn't ask for permission. I just did it.
Theresa Woodgeard May 01, 2011 at 09:47 PM
We have a foreclosure in our neighborhood in unincorporated DeKalb. We pulled together as neighbors to clean up the trash that was left by looters and stayed on DeKalb code enforcement until the bank finally hired someone to come get what no one wanted. It took nearly a month to get rid of what looked like a trash heap. It really is a sad situation for the family that lost their home and I wonder if we had known what we could have done to help before the bank locked the doors.
Jon Deere October 23, 2011 at 05:24 AM
Oh Theresa Woodgeard, mother of 4, that really warms my heart.

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