Make sure the bank takes your foreclosed home

By Marcie Geffner -

What happens to a house when the beleaguered owner moves out, and the lender never finishes the foreclosure paperwork?

It becomes a zombie house.

The term "zombie house" applies because the absent homeowner is still legally responsible for the foreclosed property and can be haunted by property taxes, homeowners association fees, fines for building code violations and other expenses.

A zombie house can be plagued by such other problems as squatters, mosquito-infested swimming pools and natural gas leaks.

A zombie house is sometimes referred to as a "zombie title" house, but in fact, the title isn't in question, says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, a real estate data company in Irvine, Calif.

"The public records are very clear that the homeowners still own the property," Blomquist says. "The issue ... is that they are unaware they still own the property, and they are then held responsible for expenses related to that property."

Read on: