While the real estate market has been on the upswing in the past couple of years, there’s still a lingering effect of the housing market crash that continues to trouble some neighborhoods.
As properties went into foreclosure after the 2008 crash, companies began picking up bargains in bulk. Some of the companies did quick flips while others did more substantial improvements and sold them for large sums and tidy profits.
Then there were companies like Hyperion Homes, which bought up large numbers of property in various markets in the nation, including Chicago. Back in 2014 Hyperion bought up about a half billion dollars’ worth of real estate, including a couple of homes in North Riverside.
The program the company – now known as Home Partners of America – set up is an admirable one. They seek to put people who might not otherwise be able to get a bank loan on the path to home ownership thought rent-to-own agreements.
Many of the homes the company bought had been through the foreclosure process and were sitting vacant in neighborhoods. The plan is not to rent them long term, over and over, because that’s not really economically viable. The goal is to eventually sell the home and make it a functioning part of the neighborhood fabric again.
But the long-distance relationship between companies like Home Partners of America and their tenants has turned out to be problematic at one location in North Riverside. First, it was a gunfire-filled New Year’s celebration to ring in 2016. In mid-February it was a purported burglary at the home, featuring four gun-toting offenders, which had the neighborhood in a panic one morning as police swarmed looking for the suspects.
In between, neighbors called police about suspicious vehicles and generally feared what was going on at the house.
The Landmark contacted the company to find out their procedure for monitoring tenants and properties but didn’t receive a response before press time. The village says the company has been responsive to their concerns, but we find it odd that the person with whom the company inked its originally rent-to-own agreement was no longer on the lease.
Essentially, the rent-to-own plan for this property went out the window at some point, and neighbors were left to contend with a sketchy situation on the block that has now twice involved police responses and gunfire.
It’s critical that landlords monitor what’s going on in their properties, and while we’re glad the village moved aggressively to see that this particular problem gets solved before someone gets hurt, we’d like to see a level of attention from landlords like Home Partners of America to prevent situations like this.
Unless the company has the ability to ensure that their tenants aren’t negatively impacting the neighborhood, it should get out of the rental business and sell the inventory.