By Teke Wiggin
What would you do if the vacant foreclosure next door was falling into disrepair and threatening your own home's value? If you're like Homosassa, Fla., resident Lisa Cocuzza, you'd try to buy it and fix it up.
That was Cocuzza's plan five years ago when a for-sale sign went up at a vacant foreclosure across the street. Worried that the property would continue to deteriorate and soon blight her neighborhood, she offered to pay its full asking price of $69,000. But three days before the deal was to close, she said, it fell through because of problem involving the lenders who owned the home.
This seems to be a typical story line for homeowners across the country -- many of whom are growing so desperate to preserve their neighborhoods that they're willing to buy the foreclosure next door -- only to fail. The foreclosures then tend to continue to sit empty and chip away at the surrounding homes' values.An estimated 1.5 million homes in the U.S. are bank-owned or in some stage of foreclosure, according to online foreclosure marketplace RealtyTrac. But the complications of buying one can make them difficult, even impossible, for an average homebuyer to purchase.