Cheryl Fleming - RE/MAX Executive Realty


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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.

  • House might be full of graffiti.
  • Trash is left behind, and some of it may be unsanitary or hazardous (i.e. dirty diapers or needles).
  • Space may have been used for illegal drug activity, including meth labs, which the latter can create serious health risks.
  • Open windows, doors, or busted plumbing may have created moist conditions and dangerous black mold.
  • 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.


    For those who want to enjoy a quick, seamless homebuying experience, it helps to prepare as much as possible. In fact, those who plan ahead may be better equipped than others to avoid various challenges throughout the homebuying cycle.

    From struggling to obtain home financing after a seller accepts your offer to purchase to struggling to find the right home in one of your preferred cities and towns, myriad issues may make it tough for you to achieve your desired results on the homebuying journey. Fortunately, we're here to help you minimize risk as you pursue your dream residence.

    Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you avoid a homebuying fiasco.

    1. Establish Homebuying Criteria

    If you enter the housing market with criteria in hand, you can narrow your house search. As a result, you may be able to accelerate your journey from homebuyer to homeowner.

    Think about where you want to live. Then, you can hone your home search and focus exclusively on houses in specific cities and towns.

    It also may be beneficial to establish a list of home must-haves and wants. This list can help you determine exactly what you want to find in your dream house so you can map out your home search accordingly.

    2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

    There is no need to wait to get a mortgage. Thankfully, lenders are available that can help you get approved for a mortgage before you kick off your home search.

    Meet with a variety of banks and credit unions – you'll be glad you did. This will allow you to learn about the ins and outs of different mortgage options.

    Furthermore, don't hesitate to ask questions about all of the mortgage options at your disposal. Because if you understand exactly how a mortgage works, you can make an informed mortgage decision.

    3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

    When it comes to avoiding problems during the homebuying journey, it generally is a good idea to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional will offer comprehensive support at each stage of the homebuying journey. By doing so, a real estate agent will ensure you can quickly and effortlessly navigate the housing market.

    For example, if you want to find a house in a small town, a real estate agent will help you explore residences that match your expectations. He or she will set up home showings and keep you informed about open house events. Plus, if you identify your dream house, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer to purchase.

    Let's not forget about the housing market expertise that a real estate agent possesses, either. If you ever have concerns or questions as you pursue your dream house, a real estate agent is happy to address them at any time.

    Want to discover your dream residence? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can reduce the risk of encountering problems as you search for your ideal residence.


    The process of buying a house may prove to be long and complicated. Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take before you pursue a home to streamline the homebuying cycle, and these include:

    1. Create a Homebuying Checklist

    It helps to start the homebuying process with a homebuying checklist in hand. This checklist will enable you to differentiate between home must-haves and wants, resulting in a fast, efficient homebuying journey.

    Think about what you require from a home. For example, if you need a house that is located close to your office in the city, you should include this information in your checklist.

    Also, if you want a house that features a built-in swimming pool, you can include this information in your homebuying checklist. But keep in mind that a swimming pool likely is a non-essential item. And if you find a home that is virtually perfect but lacks a swimming pool, it may still be a good idea to pursue this house.

    2. Establish a Budget

    How much can you afford to spend on a house? This question frequently plagues buyers as they proceed along the homebuying journey. Luckily, you can determine how much money is at your disposal if you develop a budget.

    To budget effectively, it helps to meet with local lenders. Banks and credit unions generally offer a wide range of mortgage options and can help you make an informed mortgage decision.

    In addition, it often helps to get pre-approved for a mortgage prior to entering the real estate market. Because if you have a mortgage, you can pursue houses that fall within a specific price range and reduce the risk of overspending to acquire your dream house.

    3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

    If you want to enjoy a quick, seamless homebuying experience, it is beneficial to have a homebuying expert at your side. Thankfully, real estate agents are available nationwide, and these housing market professionals will do what it takes to help you discover a great house at an affordable price.

    A real estate agent understands housing market patterns and trends and can help you plan ahead for a buyer's or seller's market. He or she will teach you about the real estate market and respond to your homebuying queries as well.

    Furthermore, a real estate agent acts as a guide throughout the homebuying journey. This housing market professional will set up home showings, negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf and help you finalize a home purchase. By doing so, a real estate agent will take the guesswork out of buying a house, regardless of the current housing market's conditions.

    When it comes to purchasing a house, it helps to prepare. If you employ a real estate agent today, you can get the support you need to plan ahead for the best- and worst-case homebuying scenarios. That way, you'll be able to identify and address potential homebuying hurdles before they escalate.

    Ready to buy a house? Follow the aforementioned steps, and you can move closer to pursuing your dream residence.


    The homebuying journey may seem daunting at first. Lucky for you, we're here to help take the guesswork out of finding and acquiring your dream house.

    Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you approach the homebuying journey with poise and confidence.

    1. Be Diligent

    A diligent homebuyer may be better equipped than others to enjoy a seamless and successful property buying experience. In fact, this buyer likely will do whatever it takes to find the right house at the right price, regardless of the current real estate market's conditions.

    To become a diligent homebuyer, it generally is a good idea to learn about the housing market in your preferred cities and towns. With this information, you can determine whether you're pursuing a home in a buyer's or seller's market and plan accordingly.

    Furthermore, it may be beneficial to get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you enter the housing market with a mortgage, you'll know exactly how much you can spend to acquire your dream house.

    2. Know Where You Want to Go

    Establish homebuying criteria – you'll be glad you did. If you know what differentiates your dream house from others, you can quickly and effortlessly search for residences that match your expectations.

    Also, you may want to hone your home search to specific cities and towns. For example, if you want to find a house close to your office in the city, you may want to explore residences in or near the city itself. On the other hand, if your goal is to buy a house near the top schools in a particular state, you should narrow your house search based on school rankings and other pertinent data.

    3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

    Buying a house is no small feat, and ultimately, there is no reason to try to navigate the homebuying journey alone. Thankfully, you can hire a real estate agent who can provide expert support throughout the homebuying journey.

    A real estate agent is a must-hire, and for good reason. He or she will guide you along the entire homebuying journey and respond to any of your homebuying concerns and questions. In addition, a real estate agent offers recommendations and suggestions to help you make informed decisions as you pursue your dream residence.

    Usually, a real estate agent will learn about your homebuying goals and craft a personalized homebuying strategy for you. He or she next will keep you informed about available residences that meet your criteria and set up home showings. Once you find your dream residence, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive offer to acquire this house. And if your offer receives a "Yes" from a home seller, a real estate agent will help you finalize your house purchase.

    Ready to streamline the homebuying journey? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can kick off a house search and discover your ideal residence in no time at all.


    No one wants to face a homebuying dilemma. Yet problems may arise during the homebuying journey that make it tough for an individual to find and buy his or her dream residence. Lucky for you, we're here to help you prepare for potential homebuying dilemmas and ensure you can quickly address these issues.

    Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you avoid a homebuying dilemma as you search for your ideal house.

    1. Craft a Homebuying Strategy

    If you intend to embark on a home search, it often helps to enter the real estate market with a plan in hand. That way, you can streamline your house search and boost the likelihood of finding a quality home that matches your expectations.

    Think about where you want to live, as well as the features you want to find in your dream home. Then, you can create a homebuying strategy designed to help you discover the right house.

    2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

    Obtaining home financing may prove to be problematic for some people. However, if you apply for a mortgage today, you can start your search for your dream home with a budget at your disposal.

    There is no shortage of mortgage options available to homebuyers nationwide. Adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages are two of the most popular options for homebuyers. Meanwhile, banks and credit unions can teach you about adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages and other home financing options at your convenience.

    If you meet with banks and credit unions, don't hesitate to ask mortgage questions, either. If you learn about all of your mortgage options, you can make an informed home financing selection that may serve you well for years to come.

    3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

    There is no telling when a homebuying dilemma will crop up during your search for your dream residence. Fortunately, if you hire a real estate agent, you can receive expert assistance with any homebuying dilemma, at any time.

    A real estate agent understands the challenges commonly associated with buying a home. Therefore, he or she will do everything possible to help you address these challenges as you navigate the homebuying journey.

    Typically, a real estate agent will help you craft a property buying strategy, narrow your home search and establish realistic homebuying expectations. He or she also will set up home showings, teach you about different aspects of the housing market and provide homebuying recommendations and suggestions.

    If you discover your dream residence, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive offer to purchase this home too. And if your homebuying proposal is approved, a real estate agent will help you finalize your house purchase as quickly as possible.

    There is no need to stress about homebuying dilemmas. If you take advantage of the aforementioned tips, you can get ready for potential homebuying problems and resolve these issues before they escalate.




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