The Foreclosure Next Door. What to Do?

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty ( Join us on Facebook.

The foreclosure next door, in better days.

The foreclosure next door, in better days.

There’s a foreclosure next door.  The owners have moved on to parts unknown.  The grass is getting high (this is Florida after all), but the value of the home is getting lower as a lack of care causes it to deteriorate.  Could be your value is deteriorating too, as your home sits right next door.

What can you do?

Well hopefully a little bit more than I can.  You see, I have this same problem, literally.

The house to my rear foreclosed two years ago.  It’s been empty ever since.

If your city or county has a code enforcement division they may be able to help.  Some municipalities will actually cut the grass and then esentially bill the foreclosing bank at closing in order to clear title.   Even if the house hasn’t been foreclosed yet and the owners have simply absconded, that may be enough for the city/county to get out there.

If you live in a homeowners association they may be empowered to take care of the landscaping/yard work already, however, there is less likelyhood that they’ll get paid back.  We had a short sale a few years back where the owners abandoned the house and then essentially disappeared.  Because our sign was in the yard the neighbors started calling us.

We finally pulled the sign so people would quit calling (our calls to the owners went unanswered).  We called the homeowners association to alert them to the problem (not sure why the residents didn’t).

My partner Ron was the past president of an area HOA and when a similar situation arose in his neighborhood, the HOA did move forward on the yardwork.  While they weren’t sure if they would see the maintenance bill squared when the foreclosure proceeds were dispersed, the board felt their action was neccessary to protect values in the neighborhood.

You can even contact the lender on the property if you can find it in public records.  In our county (St. Johns County, Florida) the mortgage holder is typically listed in the clerk or courts filings, however, it can be really dificult to track down the person in charge, especially if the loan servicer has changed.

In my case there was little I could do.  The county doesn’t have any procedure to handle the situation, there is no HOA, and I couldn’t get the bank alerted to the problem as they would not respond to calls, emails or even letters.

So to protect my own property I mowed a buffer area probably 12-14 beyond my back line, and posted “private property” signs at the line.  I noticed at least one of the home’s other neighbors did the same on his side.

What else can you do?

Contact St. Augustine Team for agents that can help you find a home in the most stable neighborhood, or simply call broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327. 




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