Whether in your own neighborhood, or in another nearby, you’ve no doubt seen them: those sad, eye-sore properties with the punctured screen door left ajar, weeds climbing the gutters and covering over the pathway to the front door. You’re convinced the once-tamed lawn now shelters more species of insects than the natural history museum and had the grass not grown to such heights already, you’d be half-tempted to head over there with a lawnmower this weekend—just to restore it some dignity.
Of course, maintaining someone else’s property isn’t your responsibility and, until quite recently, very few attempted to make it theirs either. Business emerges out of opportunity though, and as the number of derelict properties in the U.S. has skyrocketed due to foreclosure, the property preservation business has flourished.
Property preservation, which is part of the mortgage field services industry, is perhaps less glamorous than the term suggests (we’re not talking about preserving historical landmarks here), but it’s an important, profitable business. And it’s relatively straight forward. Properties don’t maintain themselves, and once abandoned, begin to fall into disrepair. Value tumbles with each burst pipe and broken window, and the banks and lenders who own these properties have realized that it’s much cheaper to pay a reliable company to maintain the property until sold than it is to ignore the property and hope a buyer ignores its blemishes too.
Property preservation companies perform a host of services. They secure properties (locks are changed, houses that need it are boarded up, swimming pool areas are secured, etc.); they winterize them; they clean them; they remove personal property left behind; they mow the lawn and plow the driveway; the list goes on.
While it’s unfortunate that the demand for such services is high, that they exist is really a win-win-win scenario. Lenders are happy because their properties are in a sellable condition, communities are happy because these houses aren’t turning into eyesores and dragging down property values in the area, and property preservation companies are making money and creating jobs to offer a much-needed service.
So, if you drive by that local foreclosure soon and see that the screen door has been patched, the weeds appear to have set the gutters free, and the lawn looks safe to walk on, I’d bet my lawnmower that a property preservation company is to thank for it.