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Federal grants—to the tune of nearly $4 billion—will be distributed to state and local governments in an effort to help them buy foreclosed and abandoned homes. A spreadsheet, created by researchers at the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) documents how widespread subprime lending and delinquency and foreclosure rates in more than 1,000 markets, according to Inman News. This spreadsheet could play a role in determining the allocation of the $4 billion in federal grants. (Download the spreadsheet as an xls here.)

"State and local governments must submit an action plan by Dec. 1 detailing how they will distribute the Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds, which are supposed to go to high-risk areas with the greatest percentage of subprime loans and foreclosures," according to Inman News.

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program was created by Congress in July, and last month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated $3.92 billion to the program in the form of 300 grants. "States receiving the largest allocations include California ($530 million), Florida ($541 million), Michigan ($264 million), Ohio ($258 million) and Texas ($178 million)," according to Inman News.

To determine which areas will get the grants, LISC developed a metric they call a "foreclosure needs score" for a geographic area. These geographic areas are defined by the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) level and the scores are defined by measures of subprime lending, foreclosures and delinquency from McDash Analytics and vacancy rates from the U.S. Postal Service, according to HousingPolicy.org. LISC is planning to create foreclosure needs scores at the ZIP code level in the future.

Although the spreadsheet was not intended for real estate investors, it contains the type of data that makes it seem tailor-made for them: "vacancy ratios and the number and percentage of delinquencies, foreclosures and real-estate-owned properties in hundreds of individual housing markets, as well as the number and percentage of subprime loans," according to Inman News.

The information could prove useful both to real estate investors who seek out foreclosures as investment opportunities and those who want to avoid them. While investing in a foreclosure could mean a great deal on a property for an investor, those who are searching for a property to use as their primary residence might want to avoid areas with lots of foreclosures, because a higher number of foreclosures in an area has been shown to correlate with an increased crime rate. A 2005 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago found "that higher foreclosure levels do contribute to higher levels of violent crime....A standard deviation increase in the foreclosure rate (about 2.8 foreclosures for every 100 owner-occupied properties in one year) corresponds to an increase in neighborhood violent crime of approximately 6.7 percent."

HUD also has extensive information on a Neighborhood Stabilization Program page on its website, which contains information such as income limits for the program, along with foreclosure rates and foreclosure and abandonment risk scores for various markets.