Zombie titles come back to haunt New Jersey homeowners

One of the most complicated realities that many people in this country are facing every day is the threat of losing their home. In such a difficult economy and due to the housing crisis, many homeowners are finding themselves unable to keep up with mortgage payments. For many people, owning a home is something they have worked for their entire lives, so when they learn that bank wants to take that home away, it can be devastating.

A person who learns that their home has gone into foreclosure in New Jersey may feel as though there is nothing he or she can do about it. While it is very difficult, many people simply try to accept the loss of their home and attempt to deal with it on their own. They may pack up what they can and move out, leaving the bank to sell their home. However, trying to deal with this process alone can come back to haunt homeowners.

According to reports, so-called zombie titles are affecting people across the country. People who get a letter from the bank stating that their house will be sold in a foreclosure sale often pack up and leave the property, assuming it is now in the bank’s hands. However, banks will sometimes abandon these properties after deciding it is not worth it financially to sell them. Instead of notifying the homeowner that the home is still in his or her name, these properties go into limbo. The bank has no ownership over them and the homeowner has no idea that they are still legally responsible for the care of the home.

This means that several years after they have left their house to the bank, homeowners are receiving court summonses and bills for back taxes, trash removal and demolition services for a home they believed to have been sold. Some people end up owing thousands of dollars for a home that is in disrepair and has been all but destroyed after years of neglect.

The possibility and process of foreclosure can be very difficult for people to deal with alone. Homeowners can work with an attorney to stop foreclosure, but it could also be important for people to work with an attorney throughout the foreclosure process to make sure there are no loose ends.

Source: Reuters, “Special Report: The latest foreclosure horror: the zombie title,” Michelle Conlin, Jan. 11, 2013

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Attorney Joel R. Spivack is an experienced bankruptcy and residential real estate transactions lawyer in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Clients come to us for legal services, but what we really provide is peace of mind. For more than 30 years, Attorney Spivack has helped people make wise, informed decisions about bankruptcy filings, debt relief options and residential real estate transactions.
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