Any advice about an abandoned house?

So there’s this house across the cul-du-sac from me. Beautiful, great location, etc. etc. (We still can’t believe we’re able to afford this neighborhood.)

Thing about this house is that it’s a foreclosure. Rather, it’s an REO. The bank kicked out the owner and is now the proud owner of a great house that it’s letting go to pot. Which is too bad, because I’m told the owner put a ton of work into it, inside and out.

Essentially it’s an abandoned house. The bank owner ignores it. Every now and again someone in the neighborhood will call the county to complain, and someone will come out and do a quick lawn-mow. The bank gets (and apparently pays) the bill. But that’s it.

So what’s to do?

It's a great house in a great neighborhood. It’s the opposite of sweat equity at work — the house is losing value every day as weeds grow, wood rots (I’m told it’s getting bad in the back), and entropy takes its toll.

Attempts to get the bank to do something, e.g., pay for some basic repairs and upkeep, have fallen on deaf ears.

From what I’ve read, short sales don’t affect property values much, but a foreclosure sale — especially as the house’s condition deteriorates — will have an impact. Naturally the neighbors are upset.

What’s to be done? A bunch of ideas have been floated, from helping someone become a squatter — the adult son of one neighbor would be a fine candidate — to doing repairs and upkeep and sending the bills to the bank. After all, if the county is getting paid for mowing, someone is writing checks. And of course whoever did it would charge reasonable fees. (I assume the squatter idea was made in jest, but I can see the temptation. The right family would certainly take better care of it.)

So… any ideas?

About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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One Response to Any advice about an abandoned house?

  1. Terry Huxhold says:

    It’s a sad situation everywhere in Virginia. Code Enforcement officials can impose fines and even jail time for letting a property run down, but how do you impose jail time on a corporation. You don’t. The local government could use emanate domain, declare the property to be a public health and safety hazard to take the property and then resell it to someone with conditions of refurbishment under a tight time line. This is done in many states. But in Virginia, local governments have their hands tied in doing this.

    In Virginia, if a local government takes over a property, they become responsible for the mortgage owed on it. It can even be a burned out shell that is clearly a public hazard and the local government is still responsible for the mortgage. In States like North Carolina, this can be done without the local government being held responsible for the mortgage. Who ever holds the mortgage at the time emanate domain is invoked is still responsible for it. The city, town or county becomes a free owner of the property and can dispose of it in a manner that is for the good of the community.

    To correct the problems that are associated with abandoned properties, the Code of Virginia has to be changed. I live in Roanoke, VA and the problem is serious in this town. We need this law changed so that we can become a more attractive city. This is a change that all Realtors in Virginia needs to lobby for and have it happen for the betterment of all community’s in Virginia.

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