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Arson and the
Housing Bubble

by David Stanowski
Date 11 April 2007

Lake Ridge is an affluent development, of about 950 homes, in the upscale Dallas suburb of Cedar Hill. This area, 20 minutes from downtown Dallas, is comprised of custom homes, set on large wooded lots, on or near picturesque Joe Pool Lake. This is not the sort of place that should have been a casualty of the Sub-Prime Meltdown; but it appears that no neighborhood has been spared!

During the Housing Bubble, it wasn't only low-
income buyers who turned to sub-prime lenders. Many high-income people used these same sources to buy bigger homes than they could really afford.

But now that their payments are re-setting,
these affluent buyers are beginning to feel the squeeze, and some are desperate to get out from under their obligations!

WFAA TV in Dallas is reporting that strange things are happening in Lake Ridge. Four vacant homes have recently burned down under suspicious circumstances. One has been classified as arson, and the other three could be termed "questionable". The charred rubble of all four are now "adorning" the neighborhood, because it looks like the owners are not interested in rebuilding. It certainly appears as though all four of the home owners have found a way to extricate themselves from their loan obligations! 
Will arson become a popular method to deal with home purchases that owners now regret?

This is not some inner city neighborhood! These four houses were recently purchased for, or appraised at, prices ranging from $640,000 to $1,200,000! 

Burned-down houses are not the only things creating problems in Lake Ridge. On one street, containing 19 house, 4 have been lost through foreclosure, and about half of the houses appear to be vacant.  This is far from the only street with this problem, as foreclosures are spreading throughout the rest of the neighborhood. One of the homes, lost through foreclosure, is listed for sale for $150,000 less than its property-tax appraisal.

Homeowners, in the area, express profound dismay as they survey a landscape filled with expensive homes, but also the charred remains of burned houses, vacant homes, foreclosed homes for sale at deep discounts, empty lots, and houses under construction that may never be completed. They fear that Lake Ridge is an area in decline.

Stay tuned!

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