NEW YORK (MainStreet) — One in five homes in the foreclosure process are zombies, according to RealtyTrac which says that Florida leads the list with maybe 55,000 homes that are abandoned by their owners and in a legal limbo.
Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Ohio also have plenty.It’s a problem that - despite an economic recovery in much of the nation - is not going away. In fact in 14 states, per RealtyTrac, foreclosures are up year on year and wherever there are foreclosures there are zombies.
Zombies suck the life out of nearby real estate.
If there’s one on your block, you probably can’t sell your home and if you do, you will get much less than you had hoped because you are near the house from hell.
Zombie foreclosures happen when a lender goes through all the steps of a foreclosure except for the last which is registering the deed that moves title from the borrower to the lender.
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A zombie home is an eyesore, usually. Nobody cuts the grass. Nobody fixes the leaking roof. Nobody boots the occasional squatter out. Frequently there are vermin. Possibly a feral cat colony. In much of the south, the lawns are homes to countless snakes. In Arizona, the homes may hide innumerable scorpions and tarantulas. A zombie home is ugly, usually it’s a health hazard, and it may also be a fire trap.
The reason for this pervasive disrepair is that the home lives in a twilight zone. Most towns have laws on their books that let them perform emergency repairs on a home and then bill the owner. But the former owner long since fled the scene of a zombie home and even if he lives across town, typically he doesn't have the money to repay the city.