Florida Foreclosures Mean Abondoned Homes
Despite the Surge in Home Prices, Florida Awash in Abandoned Homes
The foreclosure crisis devastated Florida’s residential real estate market in 2006 and 2007. However, five years later, the market is showing signs of recovery. Prices are rising as real-estate speculators are providing an influx of cash back into the market. This speculation has caused Florida home prices to rise at a rate of as much as 12% per month. However, despite the climb in residential real estate prices, Florida still faces a major obstacle in stabilizing the state’s housing market: abandonment.
Nationally, 20% of all homes involved in the foreclosure process are abandoned. 55,503 of those homes, or one-third of the National total count of vacant foreclosures, are located in Florida. Florida accounts for 85 of the top 100 zip codes in terms of total owner-vacated foreclosures. The zip code with the most foreclosure vacancies is zip code 34668, located in in South Pasco County near the city of Port Richey. This has a drastic effect on the Tampa Bay Market.
Despite the sheer volume of vacant foreclosures within the state, Florida remains at 19.30% foreclosure vacancy, or just below the national average of 20%. When these homes are abandoned, it becomes the responsibility of the bank or servicer enforcing the mortgage lien to keep the property from falling into disrepair. However, this shift in responsibility does not absolve the original Borrower from liability. In fact, a Borrower’s abandonment of the property can often times expose Borrowers to a higher level of liability than they would have been in if they had simply remained in the home.
This increased level of Borrower liability can come in a number of different forms. On of the most frequent impositions of liability for homeowners of vacant foreclosures occurs when Lenders, due to the cost associated maintaining a vacant foreclosure, drag their feet on caring for the property. The Note-holder’s failure to maintain the property can have adverse effects on the original homeowners,as it is these borrowers who can be tagged with County or City fines and liens. These financial obligations can follow the Borrower even after the Borrower transfers or sells the property. In addition to exposing themselves to potential imposition of City and County liens, Borrowers who abandon their homes also risk increased liability for costs associated with the property. This increased liability usually comes in the form of an action for a deficiency judgment, filed by the bank or lender, in an effort to recoup their maintenance costs, fees, interest and additional debt previously issued to the Borrower.
In order to insulate themselves from further indebtedness and avoid increased financial liability, Homeowners need to take action to get out from under these properties. Borrowers in possession of a vacant foreclosure should seek immediate legal counsel in order to evaluate what cost-effective protections are available to them in defense of their foreclosure. Simply avoiding the problem and failing to mitigate their liability, can, and often times will, lead to even more indebtedness and legal trouble.