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What is a “zombie foreclosure?"

When homeowners fall behind on their mortgages and they cannot pay the bills, two options tend to present themselves. One, they can file for bankruptcy and either modify the payment structure or liquidate the home’s equity to avoid foreclosure. Or, they can accept the foreclosure and move on with their lives. Sometimes, however, a foreclosure is not what it seems.

Homeowners who receive a foreclosure notice tend to believe the bank is going to take the home back and auction it off to cover the unpaid mortgage. That is the definition of a foreclosure, however. But if the bank does not officially seize the home, the former owner who may have left years ago may find themselves saddled with taxes and other fees on a house they have not lived in for quite some time. This is called a zombie foreclosure. 

The rate of zombie foreclosures has dropped substantially since last year, but Americans all over the country are still feeling their impact. As it turns out, no state is hurting more than New Jersey. One in every 210 homes within the state are zombies, waiting for someone to pay the mounting expenses. In fact, the largest portion of zombie foreclosures are in the Northeast.

If you are facing a foreclosure, it is important to speak to an attorney before signing any paperwork. They can explain your different options, including filing for bankruptcy. In addition, an attorney can review the foreclosure papers and may be able to stop it from becoming a zombie.

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