In a housing market where 20 percent of looming foreclosures are abandoned long, long before the bank actually attempts an eviction or sets an auction date, the problem of abandoned homes and neighborhood blight is commonplace. However, in some cities, the blight is getting out of control thanks to disproportionate numbers of abandoned properties. For some real estate investors, these types of properties are a perfect fit, while other investors want to steer clear of such municipalities. Regardless of how you feel about abandoned property, you need to know where most of it is located in order to exercise the most effective investing strategies for your business. Here are the top three cities for abandoned homes in the country:

3. St. Louis Metro Area (MO/IL)
The St. Louis metro area has more than 5,000 homes in foreclosure and more than 1,500 of these homes sitting vacant, reported RealtyTrac[1]. The median home price in the area is $135,000, which actually places the city in a slightly better position than you might think since St. Louis home prices never slid as dramatically as home prices did in other areas of the country during the recession (-11.4 percent vs. 20.8 percent nationally).

2. Jacksonville (FL)
Jacksonville has the 46th-lowest median home price in the country with $142,099 and 31.3 percent of its foreclosures are presently sitting empty. The area’s average home price fell 32.4 percent between Q4 2007 and 2012, and although prices are presently trending higher in the area, residents are still unable, in many cases, to sell their homes or afford their mortgage payments. Nearly 5,500 of the 17,500 homes in foreclosure in the area are vacant, possibly due to the foreclosure timeline of 900 days in Florida.

1. Indianapolis-Carmel (IN)
Despite having a relatively high median home price of $150,000, residents in Indianapolis are more likely than any other city’s residents to leave their homes vacant upon falling delinquent on their mortgages. 31.8 percent of all homes in foreclosure are sitting vacant in the area (total of 2,488 homes), likely due to the average foreclosure timeline of 607 days. Fortunately, foreclosure filings are down by almost 25 percent year-over-year in the area, which hopefully will help prevent blight from seizing hold.

by Carole VanSickle