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Zombie properties are homes that have been visibly abandoned but actual ownership has not. The term became popular in the housing industry during the 2007-08 housing crisis when people being unable to make their mortgage payments reached a catastrophic point.
According to ATTOM Data Solutions, a firm that tracks different types of real estate data, zombie properties made up about 3% of all foreclosures in the U.S. in October 2019. These homes can be a good buy, but there are some challenges you should be aware of before signing on the dotted line.
How Does a Property Become Classified as a Zombie Property?
A zombie property occurs when a homeowner is told they are being foreclosed upon, and they leave their home believing they must immediately vacate. The zombie scenario arises when a bank either abandons or inadvertently never completes the foreclosure process, and the house is left in limbo with no one caring for the property.
Zombie properties can be very lucrative investments because they are often able to be purchased at rock-bottom rates. The problem is there are some risks involved with buying this type of property because they’ve essentially been abandoned for often long periods of time which sets the condition for many unfortunate events to occur.
Homes Have Been Trashed
In many foreclosure situations, a home is already left in poor condition. In many cases, the homeowner couldn’t financially keep up with upkeep, or they’ve purposely destroyed the home before they left. Any of these problems or others are further exasperated in zombie situations because there is a high probability more destruction has been heaped up upon the original neglect or damage.
Squatters May Have Created Uninhabitable Conditions
Once a house is recognized as a zombie property, squatters or vandals often decide the property is fair game. They might simply come inside to be destructive, or they may use it for their own purposes.
Additionally, if vandals or squatters leave doors or windows open, animals, including feral cats might have taken up residence.
Locating The Title Holder
Once a homeowner has abandoned a property, they can be difficult to locate. Some may have gone off the grid or others have no clue they are still listed on the property deed. The name of the previous occupant who owned the home will need to be removed from the title so this will be a legal detail to address before a purchase can move forward.
Purchasing a zombie property can be a very lucrative investment, but it’s essential to carefully evaluate the condition of the property before deciding to buy it. You might find the effort and expense involved in bringing it up to be habitable might be more than it’s worth.
HOA living is not for everyone. However, for those who like the extra structure, you can find plenty of deed-restricted properties. Before you buy a home in a community with a homeowner's association, you should not only check out the rules, but you should also try to talk with some of the people who live in the community — and not those who are on the board. You should also speak with the board to determine if you are required to be on the board. In some cases, it is optional, but you won’t get a vote on what the association decides.
Often, HOA communities are gated. Sometimes, they even have security guards. Though you'll still find some crime in gated communities, it is less. Additionally, homes are often close together, which affords your neighbors the ability to keep an eye on your property when you are not home.
Because the houses are nearly the same, the yards are about the same size and the homeowner’s association ensures that everyone keeps their yards cleaned and maintained, a neighbor cannot bring the value of your property down. If a neighbor does trash the yard or refuses to take care of the property, the homeowner’s association often does it, then charges the homeowner.
Rules & Regulations
Everyone who lives in the HOA community must abide by the homeowner’s association’s rules and regulations. The regulations are voted on by the members and are meant to keep the peace between neighbors. For example, the HOA might have a rule that you can’t make a lot of noise after 8:00 p.m. on weeknights and 11:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It might have a rule that you can only paint your house certain colors. It could even have regulations for pets, whether pets are allowed, and if so, what type, size and how many.
Some gated communities with homeowner’s associations have certain places to take pets, which means that you have less chance of someone else’s pet messing on your lawn. Urine from pets could leave brown spots on your lawn, which ends up costing you money to fix. The pet areas are supposed to prevent this from happening — and prevent you from stepping in a mess that someone did not clean up.
Gated communities often have amenities such as pools, tennis courts, a game room, golf course and other amenities. The cost for these amenities is usually included in the homeowner’s association fees you pay monthly. The on-site amenities mean that they are clean and are probably within walking distance. You also do not need to join a club or pay exorbitant fees for entertainment.
If you plan to purchase a house in the foreseeable future, it generally is a good idea to plan ahead for all of your potential homebuying costs. That way, you can secure the funds you need to purchase your dream house.
Now, let's take a look at three costs that every homebuyer needs to consider during the property buying journey.
1. Credit Report
A lender likely will request a verified credit report before it provides you with a mortgage. The fee for a credit report usually is minimal, but it is important to note that this fee adds to the overall cost of purchasing a house.
Oftentimes, a homebuyer can get pre-approved for a mortgage and pay a credit report fee prior to conducting a house search. On the other hand, if a buyer wants to secure financing from a lender after he or she discovers the perfect house, the cost of a credit report may be incorporated into this individual's home closing costs.
2. Home Inspection
A property inspection is crucial, as it ensures a property expert can analyze a house and identify any underlying problems with it before a buyer finalizes his or her home purchase. As such, it is paramount to account for home inspection fees to ensure you have the funds available to hire an inspector who can perform an in-depth evaluation of a house.
The cost of a home inspection varies based on the size of a residence. Meanwhile, there is no need to forgo this evaluation. Because if you ignore a home inspection, you risk encountering costly, time-intensive problems after you buy a residence.
3. Pest or Mold Inspection
A pest or mold inspection is not a requirement if you purchase a new house. Conversely, if you purchase an older residence, it typically is beneficial to inspect it for pests and mold prior to finalizing your house purchase.
Pest or mold inspection costs vary based on a home's size and location. And if you feel a home may be susceptible to pests or mold, you should pay the necessary fees to conduct a pest or mold inspection. Otherwise, you could encounter home pests or mold that may cause major problems down the line.
As you prepare to pursue your dream residence, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. If you have a real estate agent at your side, you can receive comprehensive guidance as you navigate the homebuying journey.
In addition to teaching you about homebuying costs, a real estate agent is happy to educate you about all aspects of the housing market. Plus, a real estate agent will respond to your homebuying queries and help you make informed decisions as you search for your ideal residence.
When it comes to purchasing a house, it helps to budget accordingly. If you consider the aforementioned homebuying costs, you can craft a homebuying budget and speed up your quest to discover your dream house.
You know that you want to buy a house, but you may have only a limited amount of time to conduct a home search and discover your ideal residence. Luckily, there are many things that you can do to speed up your homebuying timeline.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you accelerate your journey from homebuyer to homeowner.
1. Refine Your House Search
A list of homebuying criteria is a must-have, particularly for a property buyer who wants to enjoy a quick, seamless house search. In fact, with homebuying criteria in hand, you can refine your house search and move one step closer to finding your dream residence.
As you craft a list of homebuying criteria, think about where you want to reside too. That way, you can further narrow your house search and focus exclusively on homes in your preferred cities and towns.
2. Get Pre-Approved for Home Financing
At first, it may seem like a lot of work to get pre-approved for a mortgage. But if you receive pre-approval for a mortgage, you may be able to avoid time-consuming home financing hurdles down the line.
Oftentimes, it does not take long to get the financing you need to buy a house. Banks and credit unions are available across the United States, and these financial institutions are happy to teach you about a variety of mortgage options. Then, you can select a mortgage that matches your financial needs and kick off your homebuying journey with a mortgage at your disposal.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
If you face a time crunch to purchase a house but don't know how to start the homebuying journey, there is no need to stress. By hiring a real estate agent who can offer in-depth homebuying guidance, you can find your dream house in no time at all.
A real estate agent will do everything possible to ensure you can speed up the homebuying journey. First, he or she will learn about your homebuying goals and help you create a homebuying strategy. A real estate agent next will help you search for residences and assess houses in the cities and towns of your choice. And if you discover a house that you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase your ideal residence.
Let's not forget about a real estate agent's housing market expertise, either. A real estate agent understands how to navigate a buyer's or seller's market. As a result, he or she will make it simple for you to review houses that match or exceed your expectations. If you have concerns or questions as you pursue your dream home, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them as well.
Ready to streamline the homebuying journey? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can quickly and effortlessly find a great house and make your homeownership dream come true.
Believe it or not, buying a condo can be a quick, easy process, particularly for those who understand their homebuying needs.
Ultimately, there are several factors to consider before you purchase a condo, including:
1. Your Budget
How much can you afford to spend on a condo? You should evaluate your homebuying budget closely to ensure you can cover all of the costs associated with condo living.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage usually is ideal. With a mortgage in hand, you can browse a wide range of condos and find one that matches your budget perfectly.
Furthermore, don't forget to account for homeowners' association (HOA) fees before you buy a condo. HOA fees will vary depending on the condo community, and you should learn about them in advance so you can budget accordingly.
2. Property Size and Location
How much space do you need to accommodate your family? Consider the short- and long-term ramifications of a condo purchase, and you should have no trouble finding a condo that is the right size for you.
If you're uncertain about how big of a condo that you'll need, don't hesitate to consult with a real estate agent. This housing market expert will learn about your homebuying needs and help you narrow your search for the ideal condo.
Also, be sure to consider the location of a condo. If you want to find a place to live near school or work, you should search for condos that will help you cut down on your commute time.
3. Condo Rules and Regulations
Condo living is different from living in a traditional house. In a condo community, you'll have your own property, but there may be numerous condo rules and regulations in place that you'll need to follow at all times.
For example, many condo owners cannot modify a property's exterior without first getting approval from an HOA board. This means if you want to paint your condo bright pink or upgrade the property's windows, you'll need to ask the HOA board for permission.
Examine a condo community's rules and regulations prior to purchasing a condo. This will enable you to review the HOA board's mandates and determine whether you would feel comfortable following these rules and regulations.
When it comes to finding a condo, there is no need to look for a property on your own. Conversely, if you work with a real estate agent, you can take the guesswork out of searching for a top-notch condo.
Finding a real estate agent with condo experience is essential. This real estate professional will set up condo showings, keep you informed about new condos as they become available and negotiate with property sellers on your behalf. That way, this real estate agent will make it easy for you to acquire a first-rate condo at a budget-friendly price.
Kick off your search for the perfect condo today, and you can move closer to securing a condo that will serve you well for an extended period of time.