Home & Garden

How two neighborhoods are weathering the harsh downturn

Neighborhoods across the Midlands are feeling the pain of a battered economy and ailing housing market.

As homeowners and builders fall into foreclosure, neighbors are living next to vacant and deteriorating homes and seeing property values drop.

The effects can be devastating for homeowners, especially those who need to move.

A look at two neighborhoods and how they have been affected:

KLECKLEY COLONY

Unfinished homes, covered only in house wrap, sit next to $400,000-plus brick homes with manicured lawns as well as overgrown, empty lots in Lexington's Kleckley Colony.

Banks have severely clamped down on lending standards in the past 18 months, leaving many smaller builders with no way to get money to build new homes and buyers with no financing.

More than a year ago, one of the builders in the neighborhood of about two dozen homes ran out of money.

Edgar Vaughn, who moved into the neighborhood about a year ago, said the unfinished houses and empty lots didn't bother him. He knew beforebuying that construction had stopped on the nearby homes.

Vaughn, who is retired and does not plan to move, said he is not worried about property value. He said he is happy with the quiet of having no neighbors on either side of him.

But some of his neighbors have complained about the unfinished houses, he said.

"Everybody wanted something done with them," he said.

Two of the unfinished homes have sold in the past couple of months, and crews are starting work on at least one of them.

The other one sold in March, and the new builder, Roy Jones, has put the finishing touches on it.

Jones said he thinks the house is priced to sell at $389,500, based on other neighborhood homes on the market. He is hoping it sells quickly.

CARRIAGE OAKS

More than 20 miles away in Northeast Richland, Carriage Oaks homeowners are facing foreclosure and falling house values.

In the neighborhood of $150,000-and-less starter homes, one home has been on the market for at least nine months; others are being offered at reduced prices.

Terence Price is trying on his own to sell the home he bought there nearly three years ago.

Two months ago, Price purchased a bigger house in Camden for his family. Even in a down economy, he thought selling his Carriage Oaks home would be easy thanks to the proximity of Fort Jackson. But he has had only two phone calls from prospective buyers and no serious interest, he said.

"I'll probably end up trying to rent it out," he said. "I'm struggling to pay two mortgages."

Across the street from his Scottsdale Court home is an empty house in foreclosure, according to property records, and another one for rent. Around the neighborhood, there are at least a dozen homes for sale.

The average price in Carriage Oaks was between $100,000 and $125,000 several years ago, said Chad Jordan, a real estate agent and investor selling a home in the neighborhood.

"Now, we've seen some selling in the $80,000s," he said.

In the early to mid-2000s, builders went to suburban areas, including Northeast Richland, and built homes very quickly, said Larry Jordan, Chad Jordan's father and business partner. Prices were inflated, he said. "But it was so easy to get a loan.

"When things started going bad, people started moving out. So it leaves the neighborhood a little distressed," Larry Jordan said.

The neighborhood then gets a stigma, "and it's hard to overcome that," he said.

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