Lights out, nobody home. They're called "zombie foreclosures"—homes where the foreclosure process has stalled, the occupants have left, and nobody can say when, or if, the house will ever be a home again. There are examples all over the United States. But in South Florida, they're a little thicker on the ground.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune has the story (see "H-T finds uptick in 'zombie' homes that seem to defy foreclosure," by Josh Salman). "As of late June, mortgage lenders had started the foreclosure process on 1,587 zombie properties in Sarasota and Manatee counties," the paper reports. "The borrowers have already deserted these homes, but a slew of problems have prevented the bank from taking control, data from industry researcher RealtyTrac Inc. shows."
Many of the zombie properties are dilapidated, smaller houses valued at less than $100,000, the paper reports. But not all: "There were 34 valued at more than $500,000 and nine higher than $1 million," reports the Herald-Tribune.
Most of the homes are riding on the books of a few large national banks, the paper reports. Bank of America has 220 stalled defaults in Southwest Florida, valued at $28.7 million. Wells Fargo is holding 211 abandoned homes, worth $24.9 million. JPMorgan Chase holds 146 houses ($19.6 million), while US Bank has 135 ($19.8 million).
Real estate consultant Jack McCabe told the Herald-Tribune: "The banks have been the biggest block to the housing recovery because they don't have their ducks in a row. They don't have complete paperwork, and in many cases, they have no way to push these foreclosures through."