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What does zombie foreclosure mean for New Jersey homeowners?

New Jersey has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. It also has the highest number of "zombie foreclosures," according to the Second Quarter 2016 Vacancy & Zombie Foreclosure Report from RealtyTrac, a housing firm based out of California. The number of zombie foreclosures in New Jersey -- which are properties in the foreclosure process that are currently vacant -- stands a little over 4,000. Within New Jersey, Camden County has the most zombie foreclosures. Five hundred and sixty-three of its distressed properties are currently vacant, as of April. One of the reasons for this ranking is New Jersey's lengthy foreclosure process which sometimes results in homeowners abandoning their homes before the process has been completed.

When does zombie foreclosure happen?

Zombie foreclosure happens when the homeowner moves out of their property once the foreclosure process has started, but the title is still in the homeowner's name. This may be due to the fact that the foreclosure was canceled, the sale never occurred or the title was not transferred to the home's new owner. Typically, in these cases, the lender does not complete the foreclosure process correctly or in a reasonable time frame, and the homeowner is left with the title still in their name.

What kind of impact can it have on homeowners?

Given that the homeowner still has the title, the individual is legally required to pay expenses and some debts. This may include property taxes, as well as homeowner association dues and maintenance costs associated with the property. In some cases, individuals may not even know that the foreclosure process for their property was never, in fact, completed. However, years later, they find out that they have unpaid debts stemming from the fact that the title is still in their name. They may be faced with a lawsuit from a homeowner association or they may be subject to property taxes. Often, one's credit rating can take an even further hit because of the unpaid debt. In all of these cases, zombie foreclosures can cause serious financial hardship and legal repercussions.

If you your home has been subject to foreclosure, or you are currently facing foreclosure, it is important that you speak with an attorney experienced in these types of matters. Contact the Law Office of Robert C. Nisenson, L.L.C. at 732-518-8038 to set up a free initial consultation. For over 25 years, Attorney Nisenson has been assisting individuals and businesses in the central New Jersey area through difficult financial and legal situations.

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