SALISBURY, Md. - Boarded up, locked up, and vacant homes are an increasingly common sight throughout Salisbury neighborhoods.
The state of Maryland is ranked third in the country for the most home foreclosures, down from second last year, but it's still a pretty significant problem, especially here on the shore.
With Property Foreclosure Events in Wicomico County up 463.7 percent in the third quarter of 2013 from the same time in 2014, and Salisbury's 21801 and 21804 zip codes identified as "High Hot Spots" for foreclosure activity, last week, the city created a Foreclosure Task Force, charged to evaluate how the city responds to foreclosure, and recommend new policies.
City Council President Jake Day says education is another key component, "we're recognizing if we develop some education tools here, we can help some people make wise decisions about what type of loan they're going for...what type of home they can afford. Whether or not they can afford to be a home owner at this point in their life."
Recent numbers don't reflect a sudden increase in residents not being able to pay their mortgages. WMDT spoke to one local realtor who explains, the foreclosures are just taking longer to process because of a state imposed moratorium, which is clogging up the court system.
What would previously take 30 to 60 days, now can be a six month process.
"There was a backlog in the court system, which has had our market flooded recently," says Megan Walling.
Regardless of the cause, city officials hope some preventative maintenance will help close the door on the spike in foreclosures.
The Foreclosure Task Force, modeled after a similar program in Prince Georges County, was only recently created, so they have not yet come up with suggestions to fix Salisbury's foreclosure issue.
It has until September of this year to report back to the mayor and Salisbury city council with its recommendations.
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