• Posted On: September 01, 2015

Avoid Zombie Properties Through Steady Foreclosure Maintenance

According to national housing records, around 25 percent of homes sent into foreclosure wind up abandoned by the owners well before the legal process concludes. When homes are abandoned by owners before the bank officially takes possession the properties are referred to as zombie foreclosures or zombie properties. The only way to protect against vacated homes becoming zombie properties is through dependable foreclosure maintenance.

Zombie properties are so called because the unattended homes fall rapidly into disrepair and are often used by vagrants and vandalized. In short order, a once attractive home can become both an eyesore and a true danger zone.

How does this happen? Signage in the yard is the first clue to others that the home is in distress. As grass goes un-mowed and trees and shrubs go untrimmed, onlookers get the message that no one is keeping an eye on the property. Vagrants discover a shelter and when they go, they leave behind garbage, debris and other unpleasant signs of habitation. Vandals break windows, write graffiti and steal whatever can be easily removed and re-sold. Drug users and drug dealers often welcome the vacant properties as secluded rendezvous locations.

Zombie properties highlight the importance of foreclosure maintenance. If cities want to stay ahead of the downward property value spiral, they need to have a strategy before empty homes become targets for criminal activity and plummeting property values. Entire neighborhoods suffer when cities don’t have a foreclosure maintenance policy. Municipalities can prevent the problem but it won’t happen without a process in place. Too often, finding who is ultimately responsible for the property’s upkeep becomes time-consuming. If your area has a high rate of foreclosures this is a significant issue.

One New Jersey township has been trying to find ways to stay on top of zombie properties which account for approximately 10 percent of all the city’s single-family homes. But cities don’t have to play catch-up in this cycle. It is possible to make foreclosure maintenance a streamlined duty for your existing code enforcement agents. With the right tools, agents can stay on top of vacant properties to ensure that prompt responsibility is taken for upkeep of the home and yard.

At Comcate we’ve created a number of software tools to help local government perform more efficiently with less cost. With Comcate’s Foreclosure Management tool agents can write violation notices, generate reports, attach photos and track by case and by owner right from the field. Having a process in place is the only way to stay ahead of zombie property dangers.

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