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AG going after New York zombies

By Konrad Putzier

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has thrown his weight behind a bill to tackle New York’s abundance of zombie properties.

“Passing the zombie kill bill is a no-brainer,” Schneiderman wrote in an op-ed for Huffington Post.

Zombie homes — properties that stand vacant, usually during a lengthy foreclosure process — have become a country-wide problem since the 2007 housing crisis. A spike in foreclosures coupled with a backlog in processing them has left thousands of homes vacant and neglected for years, leading to decay and tumbling property values.

ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN
ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN

Schneiderman drafted a bill — currently under review by state Senate and Assembly — that would tackle the problem by forcing lenders to care for vacant properties and inform residents they can stay in the homes until the foreclosure process is complete. The bill would also create a state-wide registry of zombie properties.

Last week, the New York State Conference of Mayors endorsed the bill. “Abandoned homes become magnets for vandalism and crime.

They drag down the property values of neighboring homes,” Schneiderman wrote in the op-ed. Part of the problem is the time it takes to process foreclosures in New York. The average processing time for foreclosures in New York State is around 1,000 days, explained

The recession created a glut of empty homes.
The recession created a glut of empty homes.

Daren Blomquist, vice president of research firm RealtyTrac. Countrywide, only New Jersey has a more lengthy foreclosure process.

“Zombie homes are concentrated in areas that tend to have a lengthy foreclosure process,” said Blonquist. New York, along with about half of all U.S. states, has a judicial foreclosure process, meaning foreclosures need to be approved by a court.

DAREN BLOMQUIST
DAREN BLOMQUIST

States that don’t have this requirement tend to have swifter foreclosures and less zombie homes. One example is California. Even though the state has about twice as many inhabitants as New York, it has far fewer owner-vacated properties — 5,943 in California versus 10,880 in New York state, according to RealtyTrac.

While Schneiderman’s proposal won’t shorten foreclosure processes, it hopes to make them less damaging for neighborhoods by keeping homes occupied and well maintained.

RealtyTrac estimates that New York City has 2,500 zombies. The two areas with the highest number (108 and 88) are the adjacent zip codes 11207 and 11208 in East New York, Brooklyn. кредит

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