Vacant home burglaries result in costly repairs

Fifteen to twenty thousand dollars in repairs because thieves stole $40 worth of copper? Ouch. That was a bit more than I would have guessed. Maybe a couple thousand at the most to repair a wall or some floors? Not $20,000!

Very costly repairs like this will drag down housing prices further. The extent to which they’ll be dragged down depends on the effectiveness of the deterrence of such burglaries. (I’m not saying law enforcement will just stand by, but there may only be so much they can do.) Not only will owners be selling at a loss, they will be needing to repair the losing properties just to get them up to code so they can sell them, at any price.

The threat of vandalism is an extra cost of owning an illiquid asset like real estate, and this threat becomes reality more often if the home is vacant. Further, because the house is vacant, insurance costs go up, and for some types of insurance it can’t be purchased at all, like with fire insurance. (The insurance companies know the risks better than most, of course.)

I wonder if there will be a rise in the formation of companies dedicated to protecting vacant homes from vandalism. This would likely be costly, but it could fill in where insurance and law enforcement leave off.

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