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Zeller's Blog

By Doug & Bud Zeller | Agent in Placerville, CA

One Man Buying Up Town's Foreclosure Stock?

A 60-year-old man is on a crusade to save his town of Carpentersville, Ill., from foreclosure blight. Tom Roeser has invested about $10 million in buying 193 foreclosed homes in his town and has refurbished the properties to either sell or rent them at a discount to local residents. 

Roeser is the president and co-owner of the town’s largest employer, Otto Engineering. 

Roser began buying vacant, foreclosed homes in the town in 2005 after a townhouse condominium complex about two miles from his factory started seeing a rise in foreclosures. The complex was becoming a site for crime and property destruction by vandals as property values there plunged. Roeser bought 69 of the foreclosed condos in the complex, purchasing many of them at auction for less than $30,000. He rents the two-bedroom apartments out today for $675 a month -- about $200 below the market value. Roeser says he hopes to break even when he eventually sells the condos. He also hopes to buy up enough of the units to be able to renovate the complex’s exterior one day too.

After that, Roeser began to buy foreclosed, single-family homes. He said he was also partially motivated because he didn’t want his customers from big companies like Motorola, John Deere, and the U.S. military to see his town run-down. 

Carpentersville has had one of the hardest hit economies in the nation, according to RealtyTrac, which shows 1,042 homes received some sort of default filing. The city has only 9,000 homes. 

"I take the worst houses you can see and tear them completely apart and rebuild them," Roeser told CNNMoney. 

He will spend anywhere between $100,000 to $120,000 into rehabbing the properties.

He also provides $10,000 discounts for returning war veterans on some of his properties.

"It's been quite a catalyst," says Ed Ritter, Carpentersville village president about Roeser’s efforts. "Every neighborhood in which he has bought and rehabbed homes seems to prosper. Other homeowners see what he has done and improve their own homes." Crime has gone down, too, according to deputy police chief Michael Kilbourne. Incidents are less common and there are fewer broken windows and smashed fences, less trash and graffiti, he said.

Source: “Tom Roeser Buys Up Town's Foreclosure Stock to Keep It Thriving,” CNNMoney (April 3, 2013)

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