BALTIMORE- At first, it was difficult for Jamel Isaac to help evict people from their foreclosed homes. But he quickly got used to it.
“Sad to say, you kind of get callous to it and you realize that you do have a job to do,” said Isaac, a field supervisor for All Seasons Eviction, a Prince George’s County company that specializes in cleaning up properties after foreclosures and evictions.
While the wave of foreclosures continues to stall a financial recovery, All Seasons Eviction occupies a little-noticed sector of the economy that profits when the housing market struggles.
And for those companies that profit from foreclosures, business is picking up. Foreclosures increased by three percent nationally last month from December, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketplace of foreclosure properties.
In Maryland, the number of properties entering the first stage of foreclosure doubled between January 2011 and January 2012. The state currently has 1,252 homes in foreclosure, with more than a quarter of those in Prince George’s County.
By Ana Sebescen/Capital News Service
Ryan Pulliam started All Seasons Eviction in Prince George’s County five years ago to support his motorcycle-racing hobby. In 2007, when the business was just starting, Pulliam worked as a sales manager at a motorcycle dealership in Germantown.
But a year later – during the nation’s financial meltdown – he lost his job.
“That was a serious hit for me,” he said. “That really hurt. So I had the business and it was still small, but my dad did a lot of evictions for me while I was at work and kind of decided to take my savings – the little bit that I had – and invest it into the company. I just kind of built it from there.”
Pulliam declined to comment on his firm’s annual revenue.
Despite the sharp increase in defaults last month, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development said the state’s national ranking in foreclosures improved from the 10th highest in July 2010 to 38th highest in December 2011.
The agency attributed the decline to the robo-signing controversy that temporarily halted foreclosures in many parts of the country and the state’s foreclosure mediation law.
“The turn-around can be attributed to two factors,” agency spokesperson Andy DeVilbiss said in a statement. “First, the effects of the robo-signing controversy led Gov. O’Malley to insist that many of our largest lenders suspend foreclosure filings until they could ensure that their procedures are done accurately and fairly.”
He added: “Secondly, we believe the state’s foreclosure mediation law has had an important impact by mandating that lenders sit down with homeowners in a last chance effort to find a sustainable alternative to foreclosure.”
The volatile housing market is allowing businesses like All Seasons Eviction to expand. Pulliam said his company started with one eviction per month. Now, it does approximately 20 evictions per day.
“This year alone, we have seen triple digit growth going into this year compared to the year prior with the number of evictions that we’re doing,” he said.
All Seasons Eviction doesn’t actually evict people from foreclosed homes; that duty is performed by a sheriff’s deputy. The company comes in to clean up after the eviction.
Isaac – who had been looking for work for about two years before he joined All Seasons Eviction – said despite the nature of the job, he has learned to “get past the task at hand.”
“We are not the bad guys,” he said. “When we come to your house, it’s only because we have a job to do. We don’t know anyone, we don’t know any situation. We just have to move as quickly as possible and be as careful as possible and stay out of harm’s way.”