Student dynamic map competition

Foreclosure Sales in Louisville, KY (2016-2022)

By Jacob Saindon, University of Kentucky

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This map displays foreclosure sales in Louisville, KY from 2016-2022. Our purpose in mapping this data is to better understand the transfer of property from individual owners to investors during this period. Following the 2008 financial crisis, housing investors in the U.S. became active in foreclosure sales as a way to construct rental portfolios from foreclosed homes. This new housing landscape, defined by the growth of corporate housing investors, has led academics, journalists, and activists to produce a variety of public mapping and data visualization tools designed to make property ownership more transparent, allow tenants to identify the investor that owns their home, or illustrate the consequences of evictions. In this case, we aim to show the geography of foreclosure sales in Louisville and the major real estate purchasers who invest through foreclosure auctions.

Kentucky is a “judicial foreclosure” state, meaning that lenders must file a lawsuit with the local Circuit Court to take possession of a property and initiate a sale at public auction. The judicial foreclosures for Louisville can be found in court records produced by the Jefferson County Circuit Court (Louisville and Jefferson County have a consolidated government and the city’s territory is co-extensive with the county borders). This map visualizes properties which either (1) defaulted into the ownership of lenders or (2) were purchased by real estate investors at the court’s foreclosure auctions. The map excludes records which were ‘withdrawn’–meaning foreclosure cases where no default or purchase ultimately occurred. The table accompanying the map aggregates the buyers of foreclosed properties in Jefferson County for a given year, displaying those with the highest-volume of purchases. Clicking on the names of these purchasers highlights all the properties each investor purchased in that year.

It is important to clarify that this visualization does not provide a complete picture of investor purchases of foreclosed homes in Louisville. For example, institutional investors often buy aggregated portfolios directly from lenders who default into ownership of a property when there are no bidders on the property at a foreclosure auction. Nevertheless, the map reveals important patterns of real estate investment–identifying a range of investors at Louisville’s foreclosure auctions, from large local landlords to national single-family rental firms.