'Zombie foreclosures' just won't die

Zombie foreclosures - abandoned houses that are hung up somewhere in the foreclosure process - seem to be the problem that just won’t die. And even though the problem is getting better nationally, Georgia is still haunted with way too many of these “haunted houses.”

 Here to help you protect yourself is real estate expert John Adams.

Currently, close to 1.5 million single-family homes and condos are vacant, representing 1.52% of all homes nationwide. That’s down from 1.58% at this time in 2017. This is according to ATTOM DATA SOLUTIONS. But just because the problem is getting better nationally doesn’t mean it is going away anytime soon.  There are problem pockets across the U.S., and Georgia is among them.

According to recent studies, the Macon area has three times the national rate of vacant houses and condos as the rest of the country.  

In fact, Bibb County, Georgia the 4th highest rate of zombie foreclosures in the nation, clocking in at over 4.5 percent of all houses and condos sitting vacant.

Why is this a problem, especially when the rest of the economy is doing great?

Vacant homes attract problems.  

In real estate, we say “nothing good ever happens in an empty house.” 

1.  First, the yard is ignored, so the grass gets 5 feet high.

2.  Then the neighborhood kids decide to move in and use the house for their club meetings. This is just the beginning.

3.  Next, vagrants move in and start living in the bedrooms. They steal the copper pipes from the plumbing and pull the copper wire out of the walls to sell for drug money.

4.  Often, criminals start using the house to sell drugs and store stolen goods. Bedrooms are sometimes converted into dorms to house illegals who are forced to work for their freedom.  

5.  Because the house looks awful, the entire neighborhood gets a reputation for crime and vandalism and worse.

6.  Finally, property values decline because even homes in perfect condition can’t sell for their true value.  Who wants to live around the corner from a crack house?

WHAT'S THE SOLUTION?

1.  One of the most effective solutions is to locate and expose the banks who own these houses. They don’t want to pay maintenance or security. Banks are notoriously bad property managers, and they need pressure to resolve these zombie houses.

2.  Neighborhoods who organize and demand action from their local governments usually see success because politicians want to be re-elected and banks don’t want bad publicity.

3.  Because almost ALL of these homes require substantial repairs, local governments need to offer breaks to investors, who are the only sector of buyers willing to take on these projects. Special short-term financing, zoning and code cooperation, and temporary tax breaks can all help make these homes attractive to investors.  

BOTTOM LINE:  Zombie foreclosures are a serious community problem that acts like a cancer in the neighborhood. Unless treated aggressively, the problem usually gets worse.

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