Skip to main content

Chicago Abandoned & Vacant Buildings

We all know that the three most important factors in determining the desirability of a property are location, location, and location. As such, sharp Chicago area home buyers and the real estate professionals who advise them, are discovering - and embracing - Derek Eder's Vacant and Abandoned building finder tool.

Built on data from Chicago's 311 reporting service, this site shows detailed information about known "problem" properties on an easily navigated google map overlay. Mr. Eder built this as part of the Apps for Metro Chicago contest. This app was an AM4C community winner.

At best, abandoned buildings pose a visual blight on their neighborhoods. Unoccupied, they detract from the economic and social vitality to their surrounds.  At worst, they abandoned buildings can pose severe safety hazards, criminal and structural. Woodstock Institute research shows that vacate and foreclosed homes contribute to declines in neighboring property values and increases in violent crime.


Savvy owners of  such properties can  exacerbate the toll unoccupied properties exact on the community by asking the County Assessor to lower  property valuations so as to reduce that owners taxes (forcing the rest of us to to  pay more).   The Chicago of Chicago says it spent $15 million last year alone dealing with more than 2300 vacant buildings – most of that to demolish or board them up. Woodstock Institute places that figure at $36 million.

There are however some limitations to the data set used, as the City has only compiled data from January, 2010. The limited pool of information makes it a bit hard to place the data into any sort of historical context. (Is  neighborhood property abandonment  "getting better" or "getting worse." One this is certain - the devastation wreaked by the housing market crash is pretty shocking.  (The site designer's conclusion that there are more such buildings in poorer neighborhoods than in more affluent areas, may not quite as revealing.

It will be interesting to see how recent changes to the City's vacant building registration law effects the data this web site generates. Last July, the  City Council extended  registration and maintenance obligation imposed on property owners to the mortgage lenders that also have interest in empty / unused properties.  (Owners  have been obligated to register and maintain properties that are vacant for more than 30 days since 2008),  The hope is that lenders will take over routine maintenance  when the owner borrowers give up.

Now, owners of six or more properties, including lenders,  must cut grass; shovel snow, board-up entrances, post their contact information on signs in front of these lots, and post security guards at night,  and respond to complaints relating to the building;

Vacant and abandoned buildings can and should be reported to the City by calling 311 or by reporting online.  When the City receives a report an inspector will investigate to determine whether or not the building is secured (or, as necessary, registered) and will issue violation notices to the owner.

More information is also available at the City of Chicago's vacant and abandoned buildings web page

Popular posts from this blog

The Equifax data breach and you — 6 steps to take now

Identity thieves hit a major credit reporting agency—hard. Millions of consumers’ confidential identity information has been compromised.

Equifax, one of the big three credit reporting agencies announced that a massive security breach took place earlier this year. Offenders accessed data sets of 143 million US consumers.

What to do when drones fly near your home

Imagine a quiet evening on the deck of your new home when—out of nowhere—a noisy drone begins hovering around your property, almost certainly snapping photos or video. It’s like Space Invaders meets Gladys Kravitz. So what do you do?

Zoiks! Real estate scams up 480%

by Michael H. Wasserman

You read that right, A 480 percent increase according to a May 2017 PSA from the FBI. Its Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Scammers are targeting wire transfers with alarming frequency. As state law mandates the use of wire transfers for most real estate transactions, it's vital that every buyer, seller and professional be vigilant to prevent fraud. Here's what to look for and what you can do to help protect your money - your deal.

Check the Source: Wire transfer fraud typically starts with a "phishing" email that looks ok at first blush, but is a fake. Real-looking but fraudulent emails may contain:

A slightly different email address. It could be just one character off. Or using a correct name but from a free account, like gmail, aol or yahoo.

Legit-looking logos and email footers. Remember, logos can be downloaded from public websites from title companies and banks.

A working phone number for confirmation. So, if/when you call the…