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Vacant foreclosure houses in New York difficult to upkeep

When New York residents fail to make mortgage payments, they may be forced to give up their homes. On the list of states with the highest percentages of foreclosures involving mortgages that were deliquent for at least one year, New York comes in the third. Fannie Mae’s records show that foreclosures were at a high in 2010.

However, when a house is put in foreclosure, it may remain vacant for a long period of time. According to RealtyTrac, 14 percent of New York homes that are in foreclosure without a final disposition, about 14 percent of them are currently vacant.

It is difficult to determine exactly how many vacant homes there are, mainly because New York does not require lenders and homeowners to list the properties on a state registry. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has proposed a registry system but the state legislature rejected the proposed legislation despite support from various groups around the state.

Maintaining these vacant homes by fixing broken windows, mowing lawns and cleaning up trash has become a challenge for government officials. These abandoned homes are not in good shape and become eyesores in their neighborhood. This in turn drives down residential real estate values and lowers the tax revenue for municipal governments.

This causes the housing recovery to move at a slower pace than other areas of the economy. Schneiderman has also proposed to hold banks responsible for the upkeep on these abandoned homes. A few members of Congress are also asking the inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency to make sure Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s maintenance contractors are doing an adequate job in black and Latino neighborhoods.

Why are there so many abandoned homes? One reason may be the length of the foreclosure process. RealtyTrac estimates that bank foreclosures in New York take approximately 2.5 years to complete. The lengthy disputes between banks and homeowners are another issue. A vacant home is referred to as a zombie home if it has a mortgage and is awaiting a bank takeover.

There are an estimated 347 zombie homes in Dutchess County. Housing maintenance has become an important issue in the Poughkeepsie area and with time, governmental officials will work to improve the New York housing recovery process. Those dealing with foreclosure issues should understand there options and what actions they could take to protect their rights and interests.

Source: Poughkeepsie Journal, “Abandoned homes go from vacant to zombie,” Brian Tumulty, Dec. 28, 2014