Cities and States Combat Zombie Mortgages and Abandoned Properties

David P. Weber
Cities and communities facing a vacant property or zombie mortgage crisis often find themselves in a vicious downward spiral.

Cities and communities facing a vacant property or zombie mortgage crisis often find themselves in a vicious downward spiral.

Alexey Stiop via Shutterstock

Zombie mortgages and abandoned properties often go hand in hand in areas fighting to maintain property values and stable communities. Zombie mortgages are generally understood as aborted foreclosures in which the borrowers are often unaware that they continue to maintain ownership of the encumbered property. The foreclosure process may be halted for a number of reasons such as defects in the mortgage, carrying costs, or increased liability. Abandoned properties are those the borrower has fled, sometimes offering a deed in lieu of foreclosure and other times simply packing up all belongings and moving out. Although the two overlap, they are not identical. As a result, solutions to the two problems share some commonalities but also diverge on occasion. Municipalities are increasingly attempting varied approaches to combat both problems because zombie mortgages and abandoned properties drag down the values of both affected properties and nearby properties, represent potential sources of crime and vandalism, and are painfully obvious reminders of urban blight or decay in their cities.

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