How to Deal With Abandoned Housing

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty 91362

What Are Abandoned Homes?

Abandoned homes are those that an owner voluntarily left on their own free will. When houses are not occupied for many years they are considered abandoned properties. For properties to be considered abandoned, there must be clear evidence that the owner has given up their rights to the property, as well as a demonstrable intention of the owner to relinquish their control.

The state may seize the property through legal action if the property owner cannot be reached after a certain period.

An abandoned house is one that has been left unoccupied and vacant due to foreclosure, bankruptcy, or other financial or legal reasons. Local governments usually are not collecting property taxes anymore from the original owner.

Most homes that are abandoned are typically in need of significant renovation and repair due to financial reasons. They are often considered bad neighbors and for good reason.

Condemned Houses Are Considered a Type of Abandoned Property

One specific type of abandoned property is a condemned house. Condemned properties are vacant homes that typically have structural damage and several necessary repairs. These types of properties are often fire hazards and can attract crime. There are a few properties that need additional due diligence when there is interest in making a purchase.

There are certain telltale signs that indicate a house has been abandoned. These can include an overgrown lawn, boarded up windows, and a general air of neglect. If you see a house that you think might be abandoned, it is best to err on the side of caution and not approach it.

When examining an abandoned house, one may be left wondering how the property came to be in that state. What circumstances would lead someone to abandon their home?

There is significant interest in abandoned properties from a variety of stakeholders including municipalities, abutting property owners, and real estate investors.

Problems With Abandoned Houses

It isn’t uncommon for abandoned houses to become a problem in many neighborhoods. An abandoned home can quickly become derelict, creating an eyesore in the community and causing a host of other issues.

Having an abandoned house in your community will cause problems in a few ways. It will not only make the neighborhood look worse, but it will likely harm how easy it is for residents to sell their homes.

An abandoned home can attract vandalism, and with smashed windows and graffiti walls, they will gradually make the neighborhood a less pleasant place to live. The garden will quickly become overground as mother nature tries to reclaim the lot.

There could also be unwanted guests living in the abandoned home. Squatters might take up residence, and animals and pests could also find shelter, causing problems for neighboring homes.

An empty home also means fewer taxes being collected. Increasing the burden on the people still living in the area. There could also be back taxes due on the property, along with liens, which could make the home very difficult to sell even if the owner is known.

But if you live near an abandoned property, there are things you can do about it.

Is Local Government Helping?

Your first step in dealing with an abandoned home is to check with your local government. Your city or county might have taken steps to address these problem properties. Check on their website to see what assistance is available.

There might be forms to fill out to notify the city of the abandoned property or at least some information to help you.

In some states that have been particularly affected by the problem of abandoned houses, they have set up a task force or similar projects to tackle the problem.

Community Organization

If you aren't fortunate enough to have assistance from the local government, perhaps without even a straightforward way to report the problem, there are still things you can do.

If the neighborhood has an association, this is probably something that they should be able to deal with. If there isn't an association, a problem like this can be used to bring people together to improve the community.

It will be easy for your neighbors to understand how this problem affects them, so you could even take the lead to get the abandoned house dealt with.

You could start by knocking on a few doors to find out if your neighbors know anything about the owner. If this doesn't locate the owner, you could start writing letters to the local government as well as your community.

The Legal Process

If the problem isn't getting resolved, you might need to get the property legally condemned. This will allow the last known owner to repair the home and pay the taxes owed.

If there still isn't a positive result, the government can take over the house using the right of eminent domain. They might then sell the home to a buyer or they could even turn it into a park or other public facility. It could be used as an opportunity to revitalize the community, so let your local representatives know what you want to happen with the lot.

Buying an Abandoned Property

If you have an interest in buying an abandoned property, you will want to research the contact information of the owner. The easiest method is to visit the local city or town hall and ask to speak to the clerk. They should be able to provide you will the owner's information.

Before proceeding with an abandoned property purchase, it is essential to have research done by a real estate attorney. You will want to have them check the title for any liens or other property encumbrances.

Getting stuck with problems is something you'll want to avoid. Careful due diligence is necessary with these types of homes. Sometimes abandoned homes go through a bank foreclosure process and then get listed with a local real estate agent.

These kinds of properties are often sold at a lower price per square foot than others in the market because of their terrible condition.

It will be more straightforward to purchase an abandoned house in this situation. Getting your financing lined up will be important.

Typically, a rehab loan will be necessary due to the property condition. One of the better loan programs will be the FHA 203k offered by the Federal Housing Association.

An FHA 203k allows you to finance the purchase and any renovations all in one loan.

Final Thoughts on Abandoned Houses

Abandoned homes are one type of property that can cause much disdain for those living in close proximity. They are often eye soars that can bring down neighboring property values.

Whether buying or selling an abandoned property it is essential to have a legal understanding. Always do plenty of due diligence.

Posted by

Bill Gassett is a thirty-two year veteran to the real estate industry. He enjoys providing helpful information to buyers, sellers and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, RESAAS, Credit Sesame and others.

Comments (7)

Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em: golfArizona@cox.net

The legal process is the key and may not be worth the effort. Great information. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your week!

Oct 04, 2022 01:37 PM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good evening Bill - due diligence and trough legal process.  Not for those who want a quick purchase.

Oct 04, 2022 07:39 PM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

Great information, thanks for sharing.  I hope you have a great day.

Oct 05, 2022 02:34 AM
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

Thanks for your comments on abandoned properties guys.

Oct 05, 2022 01:40 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I can see where neighbors would likely lead the effort to do something about an abandoned home in their midst. Eyesores might not bring down property taxes, but they certainly lower market values in the neighborhood.

Oct 06, 2022 11:06 AM
Bill Gassett

Correct - abandoned houses don't look favorably on a neighborhood.

Oct 09, 2022 03:59 AM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Abandoned homes are not for the weak ... but if you are looking for a challenging property that could end up with ownership at the right price, this could be it.  Be sure to do your reasonable due diligence and hire a good real estate attorney.

Oct 08, 2022 01:11 PM
Bill Gassett

True Diana Dahlberg  - Abandoned homes end up being excellent properties for contractors and investors.

Oct 09, 2022 04:00 AM
Diana Dahlberg

Bill Gassett You got that right! 😂🤣

Oct 11, 2022 03:59 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much, Bill, for sharing this report.

Have an outstanding weekend.

Oct 15, 2022 10:19 AM