St. Louis County home values falling, foreclosures threaten enti -

St. Louis County home values falling, foreclosures threaten entire market

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

ST. LOUIS ( --The historic foreclosure crisis of the 2008 recession is finally stabalizing, but in a large part of St. Louis County the damage is already done.

The north county home Kim Killian paid $70,000 for 19 years ago was recently appraised for re-financing.

“The company tells me the appraisal for my home is $28,000, and I’m like, you have got to be kidding,” she said.

A big part of the reason  for the value of Killian’s home plummeting is the fact her home is an island in an ocean of foreclosures.

The problem isn’t just Killian’s, it affects every tax payer in St. Louis County:

“There is no question that all those foreclsoures are bringing down the value of properties,” said Jake Zimmerman, St. Louis County Assessor. “I’m concerned about tax revenue, but what I’m concerned about more is the community itself.”

Lower home values mean less tax revenue, which translates to less money for schools and services.

But Zimmerman’s data shows south county and west county are mostly healthy, with a good market for traditional home sales.

Parts of North County, on the other hand, are seeing foreclosures and distressed sales.

“What happens is, its hard to keep the neighborhood together,” he said. “It’s hard to keep providing community services, so forget about tax revenue, talk about what’s happening to big chunks of St. Louis County.”

Concern is prevalent in the private market as well. Chris Krehmeyer is president of Beyond Housing, an orginazation that helps homeowners facing foreclosure.

He says dropping home values are of special concern in minority communities and it actually started before the recession, with the subprime mortgage craze:

“Communities of color, low income communities, those guys, the sharks were swimming around with deals that were too good to be true making deals that made absolutley no sense and they had no ability to pay over time,” he said.

Krehmeyer said the housing crash of 2008 was the knock-out blow in a devastating one-two punch.

When foreclosures grow, traditional sales plummet, taking home values with them.

Dan Bader, owner of an appraisal service in St. Louis County, says foreclosures are an extremely difficult hurdle to overcome for homeowners.

“It’s a significant factor,” he said. “I equate it to a dingy boat.  If you throw one rock in it, it just weighs it down a little bit.  If you throw a thousand rocks in it, it’s really going to pull the boat down.”

And Krehmeyer points out, no one wants to board a sinking ship.

“You start losing the new homeowner who wants to move in there, so you start getting the speculator - who are not all bad, but certainly a whole freight of them don’t do a good job.”

It’s a problem that many recognize, but none know how to solve.

“We could spend hours talking about when, where, why and how it happened Etc,” said Bader. “The reality is, it’s here and how do these neighborhoods recover?  In some instances, I don’t know what the long term plan is, or how they come back from that.”

Krehmeyer believes that ultimately, a combination of private and public investment will be necessary to rebuild communities with large numbers of foreclosures.

For Jake Zimmerman, the primary concern is that until a solution comes along, communities are at risk of dying off.

“Until we get this foreclosure problem under control, we’re going to have trouble keeping our neighborhoods together, and that’s a priority for everyone in St. Louis County.”

For owners like Kim Killian, time is running out. She needs a new roof, but can’t get a loan for repairs.

“Nobody is going to try to pay off what I owe and then give me little more to put another roof on.”

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