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Zombie foreclosures: Borrowers hit with debts that won't die

February 20, 2013
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Source: CNN Money

Zombie Walk 2012 - SP (8149575399)

Borrowers are discovering that their foreclosed homes are coming back to haunt them -- long after they have moved out.

In these "zombie foreclosures," borrowers move out after their bank schedules a foreclosure auction only to learn months or years later that the auction never took place or the bank never transferred the deed. That means the borrower still technically owns the house and is on the hook for property taxes, fees and homeowners' association dues.

Since the housing bubble burst seven years ago, almost two million properties have started but never completed the foreclosure process, according to RealtyTrac. While no one knows the exact number, it's estimated that tens of thousands could be zombie foreclosures.

Many of these homes are in low-income communities where foreclosures are so difficult to sell that lenders sometimes delay taking possession to save on taxes and other costs that then stay under the borrower's name.

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