Identifying and Dealing with Zombie Foreclosures

When you hear the term “zombie,” you often picture rotten corpses walking around, but what comes to mind when you hear the term “zombie foreclosure?” Image

A “zombie foreclosure” is a property where a foreclosure was initiated, the homeowner has walked away, and the foreclosure process hasn’t been completed by the bank. And much like the name suggests, these homes are often left abandoned, severely neglected, become an eye sore for the whole neighborhood, and can actually bring down the property value of the surrounding houses.

But just how do you confirm a property is indeed a zombie foreclosure?

  • Check the foreclosure file at your local courthouse: Look closely at the last recorded date an action was made. You are most likely dealing with a zombie foreclosure if the “Order of Sale” or the “Postponement of Sale” actions is more than 90 days old.
  • Check on the property utilities: You should be able to contact the utility companies, and get a general idea of recent utility use. Typically, if a home does not have power or water up and running, it is vacant.
  • Check the home ownership: Doing a title search will give you more insight into the actual ownership of the home. This will give you an idea of who is running the show.

As a homeowner, a nearby zombie foreclosure is clearly not ideal. Below are some tips for dealing with a zombie foreclosure:

  • Make the property known to local developers and contractors: House flipping is a big industry, and it is growing. Zombie properties can be perfect investment opportunities for those looking to make the investment.
  • Familiarize yourself with local foreclosure laws: Some areas have laws that require foreclosures to be complete within 90 days of the original date of sale.
  • Petition the Clerk of the Court: This is a last resort option, but it is still an option. You will need legal representation as you petition for an order for the foreclosure completion.
  • Gather a team: There is strength in numbers, and the more people you can rally to your cause, the better your chances of success are at killing your neighborhood zombies.
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