Clear-boarding could gain more momentum if a Fannie Mae requirement for its use in securing preforeclosure properties pays off, and a bill mandating its broader use passes in New York.
"I'm optimistic the bill will move," said New York State Assemblyman James Skoufis, who this week staged a demonstration with clear-boarding vendors to promote the proposed legislation.
The bill, A6806, is based on a similar one passed by Ohio in January.
Judiciary committee members made technical changes to the New York bill after its introduction in March and were receptive to moving forward with it if Fannie Mae's experience with its new clear-boarding requirement is positive.
Fannie began allowing clear-boarding of vacant preforeclosure properties last fall and made it mandatory for those properties in April. It also has required real estate owned properties be clear-boarded since 2014.
Freddie Mac also issued new guidelines in April allowing servicers to use clear boarding on preforeclosure properties "where needed and as required by local ordinances."
While Fannie Mae's influence and ability to potentially reduce community blight through clear-boarding is significant, its influence does not extend to the entire market the way legislation would, Skoufis noted.
"We want this to apply to everyone," he said.
Servicers and specialists they work find clear-boarding costs more than the plywood traditionally used to secure vacant properties, but it is less visible and can do more to preserve the value of real estate and prevent blight.
While vacant properties and associated concerns like damage from vandalism are thought of as a more urban or low-income neighborhood concern, it is an issue even in some of the ex-urban communities in his Assembly district, Skoufis said.
"It's everywhere in New York," said Skoufis.
New York is one of a handful of states where foreclosures have been increasing year-to-year instead of falling, according to Attom Data Solutions. Orange County, which Skoufis represents, had the highest foreclosure rate in the state in July.