Report: Foreclosures costing millions in home values

Bank-foreclosed and abandoned homes are taking a major toll on communities statewide, including some in Westchester.

According to a new report by the state Senate Independent Democratic Conference and Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas, properties already in foreclosure are costing Westchester homeowners more than $9 million in declining property values.

The report says that so-called "zombie" properties still in the process of foreclosure are costing Westchester homeowners nearly $11 million in lost home values because banks are not responsible for their upkeep.

An eyesore on South Fifth Avenue in Mount Vernon and another foreclosed home on Warburton Avenue in Yonkers are part of the problem that political leaders like Sen. Jeff Klein are trying to fix.

"The law that I passed in 2009 requires banks to maintain foreclosed properties just as any other homeowner," says Klein. "Unfortunately, banks are not abiding by the law, "

While Sen. Klein blames the banks for not maintaining the properties it has foreclosed on, the banking industry sees it a different way.

In a statement, the New York Bankers Association said, "The law currently requires banks to maintain properties when a final judgment of foreclosure and sale is ordered by the court. Prior to that decision, the property is not owned by the bank."

The association suggested that the state should eliminate some of the red tape in the foreclosure process, which can take more than three years to complete.


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