Ongoing foreclosures, the credit crisis, and a looming economic recession are driving one of the biggest community changes to ever affect your neighborhood: vacant homes. Empty houses for sale are popping up in all major communities and no one is immune from their effects.

The Census Bureau recently reported that home availability rates increased to 2.8%. The vacant home rate is the number of homes for sale that are vacant. This is the highest vacancy rate since the government began tracking vacancy rates in the 1960s. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moodys Economy.com, claimed that this could be the highest vacancy rate since Great Depression.

Some cities like Cleveland are being hit hard. Almost 10% or 12,000 houses are for sale and vacant. Other high-impact areas are in California, Nevada, and Florida. Most of the states with the highest vacancy rates can contribute to speculator building by home builders and poor investment buys by real estate investors.

The high unemployment rate is drawing the attention of many local governments in the United States. The main reason is that vacant houses depress even the best neighborhoods. When there are vacant houses in a community, vandalism and crime increase. Another reason why many local governments are looking at the problem of vacant houses is the cost of maintaining the houses.

When there is an unoccupied house that is abandoned by its owner, someone has to maintain the property and that is the local government. That’s your tax money you pay to mow your lawn, trim your trees, cover your windows, and empty your pool. Vacant houses also lower the property values ​​of houses in the same neighborhood.

So the next time you see an empty house in your neighborhood while driving home from work, know that you will be affected. This vacant home is reinforcing your tax dollars and lowering the value of your home.

So what can you do to solve the problem of vacant houses in your neighborhood? Get involved. If you know someone who is falling behind on their payment and is thinking of leaving their home, ask for their help. Have them contact a local real estate investor or home buyer to determine their sales options. Ask them to call your mortgage company and try to get a new loan from your bank.

If you see an empty house in your neighborhood, contact a local home buyer. Local home buyers will locate the owner of a vacant home and purchase it. They will then fix any problems with the house and sell it to someone who wants to live in a great house. Local real estate investors are very smart when it comes to real estate. There are many ways that homes can be purchased, even if they are in foreclosure or have no equity.

In addition to taking 2 minutes of your time to communicate with a local home buyer about an abandoned house in your neighborhood, it could make a difference in the value of your home when it comes time to sell it.