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Buy the Vacant Foreclosure Next Door?

Mark Hankins, of Land O' Lakes, Fla., wanted to create a neighborhood trust to buy a nearby home that's languished in foreclosure purgatory for two years, but public records on it proved a dead end, he said. Six financial institutions have been involved in foreclosure proceedings on the property since JPMorgan Chase initiated foreclosure on it in 2009, the records show, and the law firm that manages the trust in possession of the home no longer exists.

"If somebody diligent wanted to make an offer to the current beneficial owner," Hankins said, "nobody has any idea how to contact them to make the offer."

And you'd think that if anybody could find the owner, Hankins could. He's a foreclosure attorney who wrote a book about how to cope with debt.

In the success story of Lori Hiscock, though, it's easy to see why some homeowners like Hankins would like to take foreclosures under their wings. Hiscock bought a foreclosure around the corner from her home in Granger, Ind.

The home had begun to show signs of decay more than a year ago, and someone had "put a black Christmas tree on the front porch and wrote 'bah humbug,' " Hiscock said.

Though Hiscock doesn't consider herself an investor, she bought the home in cash in June and spent $15,000 to rehab it. Neighbors were worried about the home being rented out after it sold, Hiscock said. But they warmed to the idea once they realized the owner lived nearby.

"We love the neighborhood, and we love the home, and we got to pick our new neighbors," Hiscock said.

The entire neighborhood may benefit from Hiscock's move. In one broad stroke, she removed an eyesore, fought off blight that threatened the home and propped up home values.

It also didn't hurt that Hiscock was a savvy and desirable buyer: She works as a loan officer, and she had the money to buy the home without a mortgage.

"I wouldn't have realized that making a cash offer, using a Realtor experienced in foreclosure sales, and making the offer without it being subject to any inspections would have made a difference," she said, "if I didn't know this process so well."

More From AOL Real Estate

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