Heirs’ Property in an Urban Context
AbstractHeirs’ property owners are susceptible to family land loss due to the precarity of their shared ownership structure. They are also often limited in their access to the economic value of their land since they do not have clear, marketable title. Although often discussed as a rural issue, heirs’ property manifests in urban areas, as well, where these properties have spillover effects, particularly in historically disinvested communities that experience deeper susceptibility to shocks and stresses.
Using the metropolitan Jacksonville, Florida area as a case study, we first estimate the extent of residential heirs’ property in this area. We do this using real estate transaction and property records data and linked consumer records. Based on these figures, we address the cumulative impacts these properties have on individual families, neighborhoods, and the broader urban region. We consider the intersection of heirs’ property with system shocks, such as recent hurricanes and the global COVID-19 pandemic. We also make efforts to account for the economic impact of these properties, on an individual family level as well as a community level. Finally, we use our analysis to inform a discussion of potential policy interventions situated at the local, state, and national level.