Report: "Zombie" homes still haunting Tampa Bay Area

Abandoned houses make up high rate of foreclosures
Posted at 6:43 PM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-13 18:43:02-04

They're called "Zombie" homes: in foreclosure and abandoned.

Despite several years since the housing crash, many of these "Zombie" properties that were bought at peak value, and later foreclosed upon, still sit empty in the Tampa Bay Area.

That includes a boarded-up home with an over-grown grassy yard on East 26th Ave in Tampa, which sits just around the corner from Rosetta Jacobs.

"There were renters there, but not legal renters there," explains Jacobs's daughter Lida Williams.

"Now there's nobody there and it's been vacant for months," adds Williams.

According to a new report by RealtyTrac, about 7.4% of the foreclosed homes in the Tampa Bay Area are "Zombies" or abandoned. The Bradenton-Sarasota Area has the same percentage. And that percentage not only leads the entire state of Florida, but is among the highest rates in the entire country.

What's the problem?

Florida was among the hardest-hit by the housing crash, and some small banks that made bad loans have been unwilling to sell the abandoned properties for less than the original purchase.

"So rather than make the sale at fair market value they hold on to the stagnant inventory at unrealistic prices," explains Vincent Arcuri, a longtime Tampa Bay Area realtor.

"The homes are over-priced," adds Arcuri of Cooperative Real Estate. "If you see a home that's been on the market for a year, clearly it's an over-priced property or there's something wrong with it."

"A big problem for the bank is the longer it sits there," explains Arcuri, "the roof is leaking, there's mold issues, then it becomes even less desirable for even an investor."

That's not to say the Tampa Bay Area still has a housing problem.

Arcuri says the housing market in Tampa is actually doing very well, and the "Zombie" properties, as RealtyTrac describes them, make up a very small amount of the market, and unless there's multiple abandoned homes near yours, they shouldn't affect your property's value.

"You're already on a 10-year low on foreclosures and now you're taking this very small segment of the real estate market and trying to say it negatively affects the value, and that's just not the case," explains Arcuri.