February 01, 2018 Substantive Law

You Can’t Lock the Doors! Are Lenders Powerless to Stop Zombie Properties in Lien Theory States?

By Timothy M. Harris

Reprinted with permission from Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal, Fall 2017 (52:2) at 195-203. ©2017 by the American Bar Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

This is the first of several excerpts from this article that will appear in GPSolo eReport.

I. Introduction

In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007–2008, many homeowners found themselves under water—their houses became worth less than their mortgage balances. As the job market ebbed and housing prices fell, many people simply stopped making payments on their mortgages and abandoned their homes. The proliferation of abandoned homes—or “zombie properties”1—exacerbated the economic situation by further driving down the values of homes in neighborhoods that were the hardest hit. Many lenders attempted to address the situation by entering their borrowers’ abandoned homes to secure and winterize them. Lawns were mowed, locks changed, and trash removed. These steps help maintain a home’s value and may have a positive effect on neighborhood property values, crime, and prevention of squatters.

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