When Does Delinquency Result in Neglect? Mortgage Distress and Property Maintenance
Studies of foreclosure externalities have overwhelmingly focused on the impact of forced sales on the value of nearby properties, typically finding modest evidence of foreclosure spillovers. However, many quality-of-life issues posed by foreclosures may not be reflected in nearby sale prices. This paper uses new data from Boston on constituent complaints and requests for public services made to City government departments, matched with loan-level data, to examine the timing of foreclosure externalities. I find evidence that property conditions suffer most while homes are bank owned, although reduced maintenance is also common earlier in the foreclosure process. Since short sales prevent bank ownership, they should result in fewer neighborhood disamenities than foreclosures.