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Fewer zombie homes in Florida point to housing market improvement

Zombies exist in the world outside of movies and television shows, but not in the form that people would expect. Many homes in Florida have been abandoned by homeowners who were underwater on their mortgage payments, but the banks have not yet taken over ownership of the properties. These homes are known as “zombie foreclosures,” because they often present a problem for the former homeowners who have tried to walk away from insurmountable financial challenges, as well as a blight to the neighborhood.

Fortunately, this horror story seems to be turning around in many Florida communities. A report by RealtyTrac revealed that the number of abandoned homes in Miami-Dade and other counties has dramatically dropped between July and September, as compared to the same time in 2014.

What effect do zombie foreclosures have on their surrounding neighborhoods? In addition to being eyesores as landscaping is neglected, abandoned properties are magnets for pest infestations, squatters and vandalism. The property values of nearby homes often drop. It was not uncommon for neighbors to wait for years for banks to repossess the properties and get them ready for the market.

Florida has been known for having one of the most sluggish foreclosure processes in the country, but with fewer new foreclosures in the state, bank repossessions are going through court faster and the properties are selling. This is good news for those who have been worried about the housing market, as well as other homeowners who are affected by abandoned homes in their neighborhoods.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "'Zombie' foreclosure homes on the decline in South Florida," Paul Owers, Oct. 8, 2015

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