Zombie Homes Haunt the Market

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (July 7, 2014) – They’re called “zombie homes,” vacated but not yet foreclosed; and according to RealtyTrac they’re haunting the market.

“It’s just an eyesore in the neighborhood and it’s kind of an open invitation for vandalism,” said Pat Vredevoogd, Coldwell Banker broker and realtor.

RealtyTrac’s data shows that one in five U.S. homes in foreclosure are zombies, and Michigan ranks as the sixth top state for most zombies and real estate owned homes combined.

“Often people will get a little afraid, they’ll get these notices and rather than step up and confront it, or at least go and talk to their lender, they abandon ship,” said Vredevoogd.

Vredevoogd told FOX 17 that if faced with foreclosure to first call your lender to try and work through making payments. Or Vredevoogd suggested taking advantage of free services from two Grand Rapids non-profits: Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) or Home Repair Services. 

“We talk about four walls: food, clothing, shelter and transportation. Taking care of that shelter is a key piece,” explained Jesse Rodriguez, financial counselor with Home Repair Services located at 1100 South Division in Grand Rapids.

Rodriguez says that zombie homes are targets for metal thieves. As a result, this month Michigan’s foreclosure law was revised so that the person facing foreclosure has a six-month redemption period, during which an inspection must be allowed to avoid personal liability for any damages to the home facing foreclosure.

“The new law says that you have to let your servicer know that you are going to leave your property after the foreclosure; otherwise, you can be held responsible for any damages that happen to it when the house is vacant, such as stripped pipes, metal taken out of the house,” said Rodriguez.

Overall, realtors and financial counselors alike reiterate: if facing foreclosure, don’t run away, review your options, especially the possibility of selling your home.

“If you want to keep the house, and even if you don’t want to keep the house, we can still look at other options let you get away from the house without having a foreclosure,” said Rodriguez.

According to RealtyTrac, one in every 1,948 homes is in some stage of foreclosure. In addition, Saint Joseph County has the highest rate of foreclosure in Michigan with one in every 957 homes in foreclosure. For more information on current data regarding housing market trends and foreclosure rates, see RealtyTrac’s website.

To read specifics of the Michigan Foreclosure Law see the stages of foreclosure on the Michigan State Housing Development Authority website.

For more information on foreclosure assistance or financial counseling with Home Repair Services see their website or call directly at (616) 241-2601.

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3 comments

  • Rainy day

    Blame some of the lenders who use predatory practices like GMAC mortgage! They have a Zero rating for customer service- Their CS is based in Mexico, Its those type companies who WILL NOT work with their clients and YOUR oppressive Mi economy that makes people give up and bail- Do you really think if the homeowners had things in their favor that they would abandon their investments?
    Most exhaust all avenues before giving up!
    Wake up and get a clue! The answer is No!

  • Bob

    Nice story. Informative. Except for the fact that lenders will hardly lift a finger to "help" work out payments. The tactics of lenders, i.e. BOA, have led to many more foreclosures, and vacant houses, than necessary. If lenders would stop and think in terms of how can I keep this person in the home, (and also keep the house safe from vandals), and work with customers…. they'd lose a lot less money. Hardball is great, but you get the results in the story above…..