Despite Halloween being just around the corner, there isn’t anything festive about these “zombies”. Zombie foreclosures are homes that have been abandoned by the original owner but have not been repossessed by the bank. The result? Homes with overgrown lawns, collapsing roofs, boarded windows and doors, flacking paint, and the overall appearance of well, a haunted house.
Even though the bulk of the foreclosure crises is behind us, and foreclosure starts are down significantly, zombie foreclosures continue to pose a threat. In some instances these homes are in such poor condition that the only value is the land they are on. Unfortunately they don’t only bring down their own value, these eyesores bring down the value of all the homes in their surroundings. This prevents other homeowners from selling their own homes, and devalues any upgrades they might have otherwise invested in. Zombie foreclosures halt the natural course of the real estate market.
Who is to blame?
Some blame the banks, others blame the homeowner and still others blame the city. It seems no one wants to take responsibility for these homes that continue to rot away. Typically it starts with the homeowner facing financial difficulties rendering them unable to pay their mortgage, the bank then serves them with foreclosure papers. At this point the homeowner becomes scared and rather than seek legal representation abandons their home. Sometimes homeowners would like to remain in their home but the maintenance and repairs required are unaffordable and they are forced to abandon their home. For many individuals who lost their job during the recession maintaining a home was impossible.
It would seem only natural that the bank would want to protect their investment, but there is plenty of miscommunication. In addition, many mortgage holders don’t have the resources to deal with the abandoned properties and often fail to do anything. In some instances the bank has even decided not to foreclose on a property for which the foreclosure process had already been started.
The municipality or the city is on occasion forced to take responsibility over the zombie foreclosures, using public funds to secure, clean and stabilize the houses that aren’t generating tax revenue. These homes are more than just eyesores, they can pose a real threat. However, this isn’t always possible and sometimes there is nothing they can do financially.
What happens if i abandoned my home and the bank has not taken possession?
If you have abandoned your home but the bank has not yet foreclosed, it is a good idea to speak to a foreclosure attorney immediately. Keep in mind that you are responsible for maintaining the property during the foreclosure and can be held accountable for the upkeep. Homeowners whose homes have not been foreclosed on remain legally responsible and liable for their homes. This means that as a homeowner you could be held responsible for housing code violations, back taxes, sewer fees, and mounting penalties. Unsuspecting homeowners have had their wages garnished, their credit destroyed and their tax refunds seized.
Don’t ignore this situation, the consequences could be detrimental. At Graham Legal P.A. we offer free consultations to those who have fallen victim to zombie foreclosures. We can help you understand the current status of your home and help you create a plan of action to truly put this situation rightfully in the past.