Zombie Foreclosure–What is it?

Zombie foreclosures happen when the homeowner assumes they have lost their home and moves when the bank begins foreclosure, but the foreclosure process is never completed. So both the homeowner and their title are caught in between this world and the next, like a zombie.

The problem is that once the homeowner leaves, there’s an opportunity for real estate taxes to go unpaid and the property to go unmaintained, which often leads to code enforcement violations, vandals, and even squatters. You wind up with a whole slew of new problems—which the homeowner, not the bank, can still be liable for without even knowing it

Your first step when fighting back against a zombie foreclosure is to check the county or tax records. These are online in most areas now and will show you if you’re still on the title.

Anyone who has been foreclosed on might want to do this, if only to be sure. If you see that the bank has started but not finished a foreclosure, contact the bank and try to find out what their plans are.

The good news is that most banks are far more open nowadays to negotiate a short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure, or agree to a loan modification than they were when most of these foreclosure cases were started.

The next step is to review current records for past due taxes, code violations, or other liens, and check out the property condition. You want to make sure you do what you can to avoid any more damage than what has already occurred and to also secure the home.

Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to rent the home or move back into it—a happier ending than most zombie movies get to see.

 

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Top 10 Mistakes Home Buyers Make

Mistake #1: Waiting for the market to improve or not buying at all

No one can predict precisely where the market is going, so trying to time your home purchase with the bottom of the market is futile. If you’re financially and emotionally ready to be a homeowner, it’s always a good time to buy. Just think: all the time you spend procrastinating on purchasing a home, you could be building equity, getting tax deductions and enjoying the many other benefits of homeownership

Mistake #2: Making an offer without contingencies

When you’re buying a home, Plan A is always to buy the home on the terms in the original contract. Plan B is to buy the home after renegotiating some of the terms. Plan C is the contingency plan: if there is an irresolvable flaw in the condition of the home, the home doesn’t appraise for the purchase price, or your lender refuses to fund your loan for whatever reason, you can back out of the transaction with no penalty (other than the money you’ve spent on inspections) so long as you have the appropriate contingencies in place. Remember, contingency = the right to bail.

Mistake #3: Not reading the fine print

If you did your homework, you had your trustworthy real estate attorney review all your paperwork and discuss it with you so you don’t get a nasty surprise at closing.

Mistake #4: Forgoing a home inspection

Even if a home looks flawless, it’s a mistake to assume that it’s actually problem-free. All homes have defects — even brand new ones — so getting a professional inspection before making the commitment to buy is crucial. Be sure to attend the inspection so the inspector can explain any issues

Mistake #5: Falling for love at first sight

Buying the first house you like is kind of like marrying the first person you go on a date with: not necessarily a good idea. If you don’t shop around and see what else is out there, you could miss out on a good deal or potentially regret your purchase.

Mistake #6: Buying a house you can’t afford

Just because a lender is willing to loan you a fortune doesn’t mean you should take it. Buying more home than you can afford can quickly lead to financial trouble. As a rule of thumb, your mortgage payment should be less than 28 percent of your gross monthly income. Besides your mortgage payment, be prepared for the additional costs of homeownership, such as insurance, property taxes, utilities and maintenance

Mistake #7: Buying a foreclosure or fixer-upper without doing your research

Some homebuyers are so set on finding a bargain, they overlook the fact that buying a home that needs repairs can be a stressful and expensive endeavor. Before buying a fixer-upper, get estimates on any necessary repairs and renovations and make sure they will pay for themselves in increased property value

Mistake #8: Not researching the neighborhood

What good is having your dream home, if you don’t like the community where it’s located? Before shopping for a home, shop for a neighborhood. Make sure it’s a good fit for your lifestyle — figure out how long you want your work commute to be, how close you want to be to amenities like shopping and nightlife, and which school districts are the best. Even if you don’t have children, living near good schools raises your property value.

Mistake #9: Thinking short-term

The house you purchase should be a place that feels like home to you and your family, but it’s important to remember that it’s also a huge investment. When shopping for a home, it pays to think about resale down the road. Search for homes in sought-after locations, and look for features that future buyers will want, such as central air conditioning and lots of storage space.

Mistake #10: Not getting pre-approved before house hunting

Why get your hopes up looking at $500,000 homes, when you can really only afford a $300,000 home? Before you start house hunting, narrow down your price range by getting pre-approved. Shop for a lender or mortgage broker you can trust. The mortgage pro will review your credit, income, assets and debts, and recommend a mortgage with monthly payments that fit your budget. The result is a good faith estimate, a document that spells out the likely terms of your loan, including the interest rate and closing costs. Not only does this let you know how much house you can afford, it also lets sellers know that you’re serious about buying.