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The nexus between zombies and distressed home values in Florida

The term zombie foreclosures is without doubt catchy and descriptive, but descriptive of what exactly?

Although that term as applied to certain homes has long been in the nation’s vernacular, for many years it hardly qualified as an oft-used phrase familiar to more than a very small minority of people.

Well, that certainly changed in recent years, following the so-called Great Recession that rose up like a monster in most communities across the country. With massive job losses across the country came an attendant inability of millions of Americans to meet their mortgage obligations, thus resulting in intense foreclosure-related problems.

Not all persons in the foreclosure process lose their homes. In some instances, though, and especially in the case of underwater mortgages, the compelling low and consistently plummeting value of a home results in some homeowners making an agonizingly tough decision.

They just walk away.

Enter the zombie.

A zombie foreclosure describes a home that sits eerily empty and unmaintained by either a distressed homeowner or a lender. In most cases, the home’s value has slipped so far beneath its market price that the homeowner simply doesn’t want to fight anymore and a lender or potential purchaser doesn’t see a reason to maintain the home or ready it for a subsequent sale.

According to one estimate, the average zombie property has been in the foreclosure process for almost three years.

Although zombie foreclosures are a relative rarity across the country, that is unfortunately not the case in Florida, where the rate for such foreclosures is high and the rate for foreclosures generally is often -- and was reportedly once again in February -- the highest of any state in the nation.

Being embroiled in the foreclosure process is undeniably stressful for challenged homeowners in Florida and elsewhere, but it is not the end of the world. A person with debt problems that is seeking answers and a solution can obtain candid, confidential and knowledgeable advice from an experienced debt-relief attorney.

Source: CNN Money, “Zombie foreclosures still weighing on housing markets,” Les Christie, March 13, 2014

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