Round three: Chicago foreclosures

My wife emailed me this link to an ABC World News Story dealing with foreclosures in Chicago. Chicago (heralded by some Americans, no doubt by many Chicagoans, as the architectural capital of the U.S.) has established a service to help homeowners not able to make their house payments refinance or negotiate with the mortgage companies. Homes in the city that have been foreclosed on are boarded up. Adjacent homeowners worry the tacky vacant houses, their lawns strewn with trash, are hurting property values in the neighborhood.

Before owning a mortgage, er, home myself I was a little befuddled at how vigilantly my friends kept watch over their property values. While I understand this a little more now that I’m up the same avenue, I still don’t understand the unspoken sense of entitlement many Americans seem to possess when it comes to real estate values — the idea that the value of a house should always rise.

When my father moved the family from Grand Island to North Platte, Nebraska, after being assigned to manage a new office in his company, an adorable 1940s bungalow was on the market for $100,000. This was out of his price range in the early 1980s, and he had to pass on the property. Roughly a decade later the house went on the market again. When we drove by the house and he realized it was the same bungalow, his exact words were “Hot dog!” He bought the house for $52,000.

Of course, North Platte suffers in being a one-industry town. When the railroad there began laying people off in the 80s, real estate (and population) also suffered. My own Siloam Springs, though half the size of North Platte in its heyday, boasts multiple industries. The loss of one particular factory, though harsh, probably won’t reek such havoc on the local economy. Siloam is also in one of the most booming, and perhaps stable, regions in the country:

Wal-Mart is headquarted less than 30 miles away.

Also see a Curbed article on forclosures in New York City.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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