Local News

Jul 11, 2014 5:38 PM by Janine Reyes

'Zombie Homes' Invading the Coastal Bend?

CORPUS CHRISTI -- As the housing market explodes here in the Coastal Bend, some homes simply aren't for sale, even though they're sitting empty.

They're called zombie homes, because they're in limbo, between the bank and the new owner. They usually go unattended for months, causing a potential eyesore in the neighborhood.

We took a look at one on Louisiana. It's a 4,000 square foot 7 bathroom, 6 bedroom house that is now going be spruced up.

The new home owner, Chris Montalvo, walked us through the unique property. "You have the second bedroom in here, but, the ceiling fan is taken," he said, showing us some of the areas in need of repair.

Walker lives next door to the house. During our tour, he checked in to make sure everything was okay. ""It would be nice having someone living here, that's for sure," he told us.

He said the house, referred to as zombie house, sat mostly empty for 2 years.

"The people living here just moved out, took their stuff, and then it got foreclosed on," Walker recalled, later, he says, and uninvited couple moved in, "I seen the back window was open," he told us. "How many people were there," we asked. "Two, a guy and a girl, they said they were homeless from Austin," said Walker. "The cops are the one that found them and chased them out," he said.

Foreclosures are supposed to take 3 months, but when the banks won't break even on a sale, they sometimes sit in limbo. The homes are then not for sale and not occupied. The result; they sit empty for months.

Montalvo specializes in the foreclosure market. "The government doesn't want to just release all these houses and depress the market," he explained.

He bought the Louisiana home and is now cleaning and fixing it. But during it's vacancy, he says, the house did become a bit of an eyesore. "Someone tore up a bunch of oranges and left them out for the rats, it was bad, just scary," said Montalvo.

It was scary enough for him to not go in alone after buying it. Not only because of the rats, but also the potential for vagrants.

"You don't know what they're up to and you gotta chase them out," Walker said. Any time he sees someone around the home, he checks in on them.

Montalvo wouldn't go inside alone when he first bought it. "We thought somebody was up there, it was pretty creepy," he described.

It's now clean, next is repair process. "Fix it out and my ideal tenant is college kids," Montalvo told us.

Having tenants there, Montalvo says, will help everyone. "Oh yeah, Walker will be happy if it's a sorority house," he said.

Realty Trac estimates one in five foreclosure homes in America are zombie homes.

In the Coastal Bend, there are far fewer.

Montalvo estimates there are 100-150 in our region.

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