Foreclosures are not just a depressing factor for the owners of the property, but for the neighbors too. A new study conducted by scientists at the Harvard and the National Institutes of Health states that living near a foreclosed home could elevate blood pressure to dangerous levels.
This first-of-its-kind report highlights the emotional effects of a foreclosure on people living near the property, noting that it ups the level of "systolic pressure - the top number in a blood pressure reading."
This study also reveals how the housing crisis actually affects people.
"It demonstrates that a phenomenon that we think of as being solely in the financial realm is getting reflected in measured aspects of our physiology. It's less about how big the increase in blood pressure is and more about the fact that you can put a blood pressure-cuff on a person and see that this is having an effect on their health," said Mariana Arcaya, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Population and Development Studies in the Harvard University, to the Washington Post.
Experts analyzed data of 1,740 respondents, of which 53 percent were women. The data came from the Framingham Heart Study Massachusetts Offspring Cohort, collected from 1987 to 2008. The experts also reviewed the number and type of foreclosures near a respondent's house. They found that every foreclosure within 100 meters of a respondent's house accounted for an increase in the participant's blood pressure because they were worried that their homes were either not worth too much or their neighborhood was not safe or stable.
But not all foreclosures affected a neighbors' blood pressure. Properties that were foreclosed but purchased soon after didn't seem affect their health. Those homes that remained vacant for a long time and were seized by banks contributed to the problem.
The researchers also explained that the conditions could vary from one region to another, depending on the housing scenario of the area. They urge doctors to be aware of the conditions around.
"Healthcare providers, particularly those serving neighborhoods and still recovering from the recent housing crisis, should be aware of foreclosure activity as a possible source of unhealthy stress to residents," said Arcaya, in a press release.
U.S. Foreclosure Activity
Foreclosure activity in the country was down 5 percent in March to hit the lowest level since 2007, according to RealtyTrac's data. Even though the foreclosure figures were up 4 percent from the month of February, it was still down 23 percent on a year-over-year basis. Check out some national foreclosure statistics below.