Foreclosed Homes Overrun by Vampires, Zombies
The foreclosure crisis has turned many American neighborhoods into ghost towns, but a new report adds an even more terrifying twist: nearly half of foreclosed homes are occupied by vampires.
That’s what real estate publisher RealtyTrac is calling them, at least. According to their figures, 47 percent of foreclosed, bank-owned homes still have the previous occupants living in them. These “vampire foreclosures” are often hard to distinguish from their neighbors because the people living inside tend to maintain the properties and keep the utilities turned on.
As if vampires weren’t enough, the report says an additional 20 percent of foreclosed homes are plagued by zombies. “Zombie foreclosures” are homes that have been abandoned by the previous owners before the foreclosures have been finalized. With no one to maintain them, these homes sometimes decay and their lawns become overgrown, potentially racking up fines and property taxes against unwitting homeowners who have packed up and moved on.
Something Strange in Your Neighborhood
Each of these spooky sounding situations may present opportunities for savvy home buyers. The RealtyTrac report says zombie foreclosures present particular incentives for banks to agree to short sales, which can save home buyers a bundle at closing. As for the vampire foreclosures, it’s only a matter of time before the banks take action to evict the vampires and list those homes for sale, which means proactive buyers can get first dibs on choice properties by becoming vampire hunters.
Florida real estate attorney Roy Oppenheim told Lawyers.com that buyers can compare public foreclosure records with commercial real estate listings to scout out vampire-infested homes that haven’t publicly hit the market.
“They most likely won’t be listed, because you can’t really show a home if it has a family in it,” Oppenheim said. “But you might need to actually drive by the home and check it out to confirm whether or not the occupants are still there.”
Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, told CBS News that many of these so-called vampires are homeowners who are fighting their foreclosures or have been given up to 90 days post-foreclosure to move out. Some banks may have even brokered deals with the vampires, since it saves them the expense of maintaining the properties themselves.
“The banks are certainly not good at maintaining property,” Oppenheim said. “Some may figure that it’s best to keep someone else in there to pay the electric bill and the pool guy.”
But for vampires who are still lurking around their former homes, time may be running short.
“As we see home prices rising and the banks getting a little bit more stable and dealing with fewer bad loans in the front end, they’re going to be more motivated to deal with these homes and proceed with the eviction,” Blomquist said.
Banks Building Suspense
While vampires and zombies make up more than half of the current foreclosure inventory, a third type of mysterious foreclosure may also haunt the housing market, Oppenheim said. Many foreclosures are stuck in a state of suspended animation because the banks aren’t ready to sell the homes, but they also aren’t ready to put them down as losses in their ledgers.
“A bank can start a foreclosure, but if it doesn’t finish it, it doesn’t hit their books,” Oppenheim said. “They can drag the process out for as long as possible to avoid showing a loss.”
Could these phantom foreclosures complete the housing horror trilogy? The banks have kept them trapped in their homes throughout the worst of the crisis, but now that selling prices are rebounding, lenders may nearly be ready to call those foreclosures into the light.
Would you hunt down vampire-occupied homes to get first pick of properties or take down a zombie at a short sale price? Tell us why or why not in the comments section below.