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Be careful around foreclosed properties
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Today’s tumultuous housing market can be a dangerous place for residents living near foreclosed and real estate agency-owned properties.
These unoccupied homes have created a hotbed for vagrants, criminal activity and opportunist. Whether happening upon a dangerous occupant, weapons and/or drugs, foreclosures can create innumerable hazards to the health and well-being of entire neighborhoods.
Danger can lurk anywhere, not only in the roughest of neighborhoods; and as more and more families lose their homes to foreclosure, these dangers have only multiplied.
Recently I was asked by REOMAC, the nonprofit trade association serving the default industry, to educate real estate professionals about the dangers associated with default properties. While speaking with those within the industry I realized this is a message I should share with residents of foreclosure-laden neighborhoods.
It is important to note that no one is completely safe and everyone can benefit from adhering to the guidelines and tips for “playing it safe,” in and around foreclosure properties.
Top three tips for “playing it safe” in today’s risky foreclosure market

1. Be aware. If you decide to enter a property of concern, walk the perimeter to ensure there has not been a break-in. Another red flag to be aware of is excessive foot traffic or bicycle traffic on a residential street during work hours, which is a good indicator of lookouts for drug and/or gang activity.

2. Act with caution. I remind my colleagues that gang activity begins to increase after 2 p.m. Before approaching a potentially dangerous property, tell a co-worker, family member or neighbor about your plans. Also, consider leaving the phone on while entering the property, keeping the person on the line or standby to call 911 should an encounter occur.

3. Don’t be afraid to call the police. Too many homeowners will put themselves in a potentially life-threatening situation before “bothering” the police.
Also when living near properties in very high-risk areas, do not be afraid to contact the police. If there is evidence of a break-in, this is another prime example of when one should leave the immediate area and call the police from a safe location.
Remember, bad things can happen even in the best of neighborhoods. Good safety procedures should be applied if you feel unsafe in your own neighborhood. No property is worth injury or death.

Dagnesses is a member of the Real Estate Owned Managers Association of California.
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