What is a zombie foreclosure and how can it affect Arizonans?

What is a zombie foreclosure and how can it affect Arizonans?

Many Arizona residents have their expected expenses under control, such as credit card bills or utility wages. However, their financial plans may suffer when an unexpected expense, such as an illness or sudden unemployment, hits them. Filing for personal bankruptcy, whether it is Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, may be one way to gain relief from endless obligations and anxiety.

Unfortunately, a new breed of unexpected bills has materialized in the form of zombie titles. Arizona homeowners may have breathed a sigh of relief as they walked away from their foreclosed home, only to be hit with a tax bill at the end of the year since their bank has not begun the process yet. Bills such as these put an extra strain on already-burdened finances.

A zombie foreclosure, where homeowners think foreclosure has begun only to still be liable for the taxes on the house, is becoming more and more common. The market is still so shaky that banks do not begin the foreclosure process immediately. Rather, they hold on to the foreclosed homes as long as possible to get the best possible deal on them. These decisions are often made without the previous homeowner's knowledge.

The problem of zombie titles is plaguing thousands of families and individuals. One way for Arizona homeowners to ensure they do not get hit with a similar bill is to get in touch with their banks and ask about the status of their foreclosed property.

Arizona homeowners may also not be aware that filing for bankruptcy puts an automatic stay on foreclosure proceedings and in fact filers may be able to hold on to their houses up to a certain value. In addition to this, filing for bankruptcy also puts an end to other collection efforts and may even help with tax obligations, so filers can truly breathe a sigh of relief as they rebuild their financial life.

Source: CBS Detroit, "Beware: Zombie Foreclosures Haunting Homeowners," Feb. 24, 2013

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