Neighborhood real estate values affected by Zombie homes

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BY KATHY KAHN

zombieSuffern Lane in Garnerville is a pleasant, well-kept street where residents appear to take a lot of pride in their homes. Not so at 14 Suffern Lane, where the property owners have abandoned it and left the two-story dwelling to deteriorate, creating both a public eyesore and unsafe conditions.
George Behn, Jr., the Town of Haverstraw’s building inspector, asked the Town Board on Monday evening, August 8, to do what’s necessary to clean up the blighted property and fix its deck, which is in serious danger of collapsing. Supervisor Howard Phillips gave the okay to take bids to have the work done.
A search by The Rockland County Times to find out the status of the Suffern Lane property turned up only the owners’ names but no information about its current status. The house appears to have been vacant several months.
“Zombie” homes don’t just create blight and danger—they also significantly impact the property values of the homes surrounding them. In Rockland alone, there are 56-bank owned homes and 272 “zombies,” 70 percent of which are owned by national banks.
As a result, legislation was passed at the end of the 2016 session to help municipalities and homeowners with a “zombie” on their block to do something about it. The Department of Financial Services will help identify the mortgage servicer to facilitate appropriate remedial action.
In another attempt to get vacant properties bought and spruced up, New York is making $100 million available for those who rescue abandoned homes and bring them back to life. This financing is for those who income qualify for the program, and is also being handled by DFS.
To report your local “zombie,” call 1-800-342-3736 or visit www.dfs.ny.gov to learn how the new legislation can help track down the banks that have stiffed the communities that have had to make the properties safe.
Although the legislation covering these abandoned homes does not kick in until mid-December, 2016, DFS is already compiling a list and tracking down the mortgage servicers of the properties. Once the mortgage servicers are discovered, there will be an opportunity for municipalities to be recompensed.

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