The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.

A Sure-Fire Sign of Overbuilding?

Builders have been throwing homes together out of sub-standard parts for 15 years, yet somehow, we are only now beginning to figure out that our homes aren't worth anywhere near what we thought they were? Yeah, go figure.

Of course, North Carolina's notoriously lax attitude towards (criminal) illegal aliens isn't exactly helping things here...

Modern construction: Guaranteed personality-free, or your money's still ours.
A band of new suburban neighborhoods that held promise for thousands of Charlotte families is now struggling with crime, blight and falling home values.

These neighborhoods were hit hard by the wave of foreclosures rattling the nation. Damage is most visible in starter-home subdivisions across northern Charlotte, and in pockets in the east and southwest.

The best of them show subtle signs: Vacant houses. Overgrown weeds. Trash piled at the curb.

The worst of them already resemble decaying urban neighborhoods that keep police and housing inspectors busy [Ed.:—You know, most of Fairfax County looks that way, too. What's your point?]—and cost Charlotte millions to repair.

While the crime rate citywide held steady, the rate in the heart of Charlotte's 10 highest-foreclosure areas rose 33 percent between 2003 and 2006, an Observer analysis found. All of them are suburban areas filled with starter-home subdivisions. They were built since 1997 with homes valued at $150,000 or less.

Notice: This home is 15 miles away from the one in the above picture.
Windy Ridge is 5 years old, but already 81 of its 132 homes have lapsed into foreclosure. Dozens stand boarded up or vacant, with windows smashed and doors kicked in. Vandals have ripped copper wire from walls. [Ed.:—Apparently, copper theft is the future of America. Welcome to the third world, folks!] Vagrants and drug users frequent the empty houses—next door to families who thought they'd invested wisely in their northwest Charlotte suburb.

In east Charlotte, Laurie Talbot was recently awakened by gunfire in her 7-year-old subdivision. One bullet crashed into her house, through her son's bedroom, then landed on her bedroom floor.

"I thought I'd bought a home in Pleasantville," says Talbot, who moved from New York last year. [Ed.:—How many times will I have to read those 7 words in my lifetime?] "I never imagined in my wildest dreams that stuff like this would happen."

She can't get out, she says. "With all the foreclosures ... there's no way I could sell my house for what I have in it."

Here's a free real estate tip: If you're currently in the market for a home in a high-crime, over-developed area, and absolutely insist that your 3,000 square-foot home be built on less than 1,000 square feet of land, Lorton, Virginia is just what you were looking for.

As an aside, I will add that I have observed a dramatic decline in quality in every single facet of American life. The goods we get are getting "cheaper," in terms of how they're constructed and how long they last, but as far as I can tell, the cost of actually "getting" said goods hasn't really declined all that much in my lifetime. I'd love to hear what you think about this trend... Perhaps I'm just imagining things, but it just seems too universal to be a fluke.



#1 forest 11-Dec-2007
All that is may be true in the areas relatively close to the big cities, but things are still pretty good out here in fly-over land. You can still get a good 40 year-old brick two-bedroom house for under 200k, and you don't have to worry about getting mugged out front. As a bonus, you can put a shed in the yard without some totalitarian home owners association or Twp vogon stopping you.
#2 Brian C. Ledbetter 13-Dec-2007

You've definitely got to post some pictures of the area you live in—It sounds quite lovely!

Unfortunately, our strict zoning laws are pretty much a requirement lately, as things would be a lot worse without them. Imagine a house right next door to yours being turned into a motel housing 20+ people, if you will. We've got situations like that, and our localities [url=][i]still[/i] turn a blind eye to them[/url].

I personally think that construction like what I illustrated with above is a fire hazard, as the homes are close enough together that fire can easily spread (no firewalls between them), and the streets are so narrow/crowded with vehicles that fire trucks cannot effectively manoeuver to put out the fires. It's only a matter of time, sadly.

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