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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Foreclosures Become Maintenance Burden

From one of my real estate news feeds come the story below on one of the issues that surround foreclosed homes – who does the upkeep? This is certainly an issue inthis area, with so many foreclosed homes.

In neighborhoods all over the country, homeowners' associations, neighbors, and political officials are taking over maintenance on foreclosed homes. One reason is that figuring out who actually has responsibility for maintaining the property is difficult. Massachusetts is attempting to help local governments in the commonwealth with a statewide database of foreclosed properties that includes contact information for the lender and the party that has been hired to manage the property, says Daniel Crane, Massachusetts undersecretary for consumer affairs.The neighborhood do-it-yourself approach may not work because being a good neighbor and mowing the lawn is, legally, trespassing, says Donald Isken, a real estate lawyer in Wilmington, Del. "I always tell people, if you can avoid the self-help remedy, then you can reduce your exposure to personal liability for property damage," Isken says. In some cases, homeowners' associations have the authority to do the remedial work necessary, Isken says, but the process to allow the association on the property takes time, "so the neighbors have to live with an eyesore.”

We have this issue on my block in Milford, with neighbors pitching in to at least keep the yard mowed on an abandoned property that is in foreclosure. Bigger issues can arisewhen storms cause damage or when vandals break in to empty foreclosed homes. More than once I’ve had irate neighbors approach me as I was showing a foreclosed home to ask if I was the listing agent. They were up[set at the state of the yard and needed to vent on someone.
Even the listing agent isn’t the right person to complain to most of the time. The banks usually hire a Real Estate Owned (REO) management company to manage those things and to winterize the houses during the winter. That’s who you need to get to, if you have acomplaint about a foreclosed home in your neighborhood. The listing agent should at least be able to give you contact information about that company.

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