David Gambrel stood in the driveway, surveying the dilapidated mess in front of him.
Weeds were growing waist high, litter was scattered around and notices posted on the front door from nearly a year ago attested to the fact there had been no one home for quite a long time.
At his feet amongst the trash sat a wheeled child's toy with shape holes and spinning balls that could have at one time been pushed around the front yard lawn-mower style by a toddler.
Now, it was missing half of its handle and the bright primary colors had been faded by the sun as it baked day after day on the concrete driveway.
Gambrel looked down at the toy. The impact on children when a home is repossessed or abandoned is one of the most heart-wrenching parts of the whole process, he said.
The abandoned property on Skyline Drive south of Stanford is one of dozens in Lincoln County that have lost huge chunks of their value after being left empty months, and in some cases years.
While elsewhere in the nation, housing markets have already hit rock bottom and may even be recovering, Gambrel, Lincoln County's property valuation administrator, said real estate problems here have just begun.
This year marks the first time in Gambrel's memory that total property value in the county has declined.
Gambrel said he valued approximately $24 million worth of new property in Lincoln this year, but devalued other properties to the tune of about $28 million.
Much of that $28 million was due to distressed properties like the Skyline Drive house, which are cropping up in greater and greater numbers, he said.
"This year I encountered more (distressed properties) than I did in all the other years combined," he said. "The last 18 months I've seen what has been happening nationally happening here."
Linda King lives with her husband across from the Skyline Drive property and said the house used to be kept up, but now it has become a den for all kinds of unwanted wildlife.
"That house was beautiful," she said. "Now it's awful. We have rodents coming out of there. Snakes are getting over here now, too."
King said another neighbor had to kill a rattlesnake recently, something she blames on the abandoned property across the street.
Gambrel said the silver lining is that while overall property value is down, it’s almost entirely distressed properties that are bringing it down.
In general, if you bought your home for what it’s worth with solid financing, your property value is not likely to decline, he said.
Distressed properties are scattered all across the county and all kinds of homes have been affected, from mobile homes to two-story family dwellings previously worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A home on Brock Road was valued at $82,000 in 2008 before dropping to $23,000 just three years later. One house on Tolley Road fell from $47,000 to $24,000 over the last four years.