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What to Do When Your Neighbors Abandon Their House

by Meribeth Phipps, studioD

That abandoned house down the street can really be an eyesore. Not to mention the possibility of it becoming a health hazard or a danger to your children if for some reason, curiosity gets the best of them and they venture onto the premises. Abandoned homes and foreclosures can bring down the value of your home by 5 percent to 10 percent, the Appraisal Institute reports. Although your options might seem limited, certain solutions may be available to you.

Contact The Owner

The first step in solving the problem is to do some research. Finding out who the owner of record is can be the fastest, most direct method of getting results. Your local title company will have available records of who exactly owns the property and their contact information. Foreclosed homes generally revert to the bank, and speaking to the asset manager about maintenance issues often can solve your problem.

Local Municipality

Contacting your local city, county or health department can be very successful, especially if health-related concerns arise. When a formal complaint is filed, don't be surprised if a city or health official soon performs an on-site inspection of the premises. When an overgrown yard representing a fire hazard or health related issues are found, maintenance and repair work can be performed on a case-by-case basis with the local government billing the current homeowner or foreclosure entity for services rendered.

Make An Offer

There's always the possibility that the owner of the abandoned home will sell it at a less than market-value price. Maybe you, your relatives or even someone you know is looking for a home with which they can build a little sweat equity. Contacting a local real estate agent about what price to offer or getting local market information can be very beneficial in making a solid deal come together. The quicker a new owner lives on the premises, the faster the neighborhood eyesore goes away.

HUD Homes

Abandoned HUD homes can be particularly troublesome. These foreclosed assets are typically sold "as-is," but rarely will HUD make minor repairs or remedies. If you are wary of a HUD home tainting your neighborhood scenery, you might try to contact the listing agent posted on the for-sale sign. If that doesn't work, HUD has a website that details every home for sale in the country, and not only is the listing agent's contact info included, but the asset manager and field service manager as well (See Resources).

Don't Trespass

It may be tempting to just walk over to the property and begin to trim the hedges and mow the lawn. But this can lead to legal issues if you don't have proper consent from the owners. If you mistakenly damage anything on the property, the homeowner may not only go after you for damages, but in some cases may attach your homeowners insurance policy. And don't forget that entering onto another person's property uninvited is trespassing.

About the Author

Meribeth Phipps has been a real estate broker since 2000, specializing in residential new home sales. She holds a bachelor's degree in business and marketing.

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