A bank forecloses on a home, the residents pack up and leave and the city is left to clean up the mess. These abandoned homes in foreclosure limbo, referred to as zombie homes are haunting a number of Florida neighborhoods. These properties are often uninhabitable because they have fallen into such disrepair, and the owners are unwilling to fix them up because with the outstanding mortgage payments, the bank can still come back and foreclose on the property.
By hand-picking which foreclosures they complete and which they ignore, banks are strapping individual borrowers with a permanent, inescapable debt while creating slums in already struggling communities. These vacant homes often attract drug dealers and squatters and bring down the value of surrounding properties.
The financial crisis resulted in many homeowners walking away from their properties when they got their initial foreclosure notice, seeking to avoid being evicted, not realizing that the process could take years.
Zombie foreclosures have become more widespread in recent years throughout the country, but are especially prevalent in Florida, where as of June 2, 48,630 homes in some stage of foreclosure sat vacant, according to RealtyTrac. That accounts for a third of the 141,406 vacant foreclosed properties nationwide!
According to real estate experts, zombie foreclosures come in two forms:
1.) The unintentional “byproduct” of Florida’s judicial foreclosure process, which can take months and result in “properties sitting in limbo;”
2.) Intentional delay by lenders, who file a foreclosure case so they do not lose the option to do so when the statute of limitations runs out. However, these lenders do not move forward because completing the foreclosure would not be financially viable.
Zombie homes can haunt homeowners- and neighborhoods for years, having a negative impact on cities. When homeowners and banks walk away from a property, the city is left with the responsibility of the home.
The Justice Department has taken some responsibility. Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co. each agreed to forgive loans when they decide not to pursue foreclosure and have helped cities pay to demolish the abandoned homes. The agreements, however, contain no specific monetary obligation and instead fall under broad consumer relief payments.
Florida cities like Jacksonville and St. Petersburg have borne the burden. Jacksonville demolished 113 homes that were vacant and unsafe in 2013. In 2014, the city bulldozed another 60 properties. It is estimated that St. Petersburg will demolish 100 houses this year. Officials have said the city simply does not have the resources to deal with all of the vacant homes.
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Choosing the right attorney can make the difference between whether or not you can keep your home. A well-qualified Miami foreclosure defense attorney will not only help you keep your home, but they will be able to negotiate a loan that has payments you can afford. Miami foreclosure defense attorney Timothy Kingcade has helped many facing foreclosure alleviate their stress by letting them stay in their homes for at least another year, allowing them to re-organize their lives. If you have any questions on the topic of foreclosure please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.