It's not exactly "Night of the Living Dead," but there are apparently nearly 2,000 so-called "zombie houses" in the East Bay right now.
These are homes that are in foreclosure where the occupants have either disappeared or have moved, leaving the homes vacant before they have been sold.
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Realty Trac estimates there are 748 zombie homes in Alameda County. The total ranks as 11th among California's 58 counties. Alameda County has the 7th largest total population.
The website says Contra Costa County has 1,178 zombie houses. That total ranks as 7th highest. Contra Costa is the 9th largest in total population.
County Total Foreclosures Total Zombies Zombie Percentage Alameda County 3,490 748 21 percent Contra Costa County 3,812 1,178 31 percent California 106,135 28,821 27 percent
The problem zombie homes sometimes present is they become run-down or even vandalized, becoming eyesores in their neighborhood.
Adam Moe, a Newark-based Realtor for 35 years, said zombie houses are not a big problem anymore in the Tri-City area. He said rising home prices are causing houses to be sold more quickly, reducing the chances they'll be left vacant.
Jay Gallagher, the broker/owner of HomesMax HomeSellers, said zombie homes are bigger problems in urban areas such as Richmond and Oakland, where the sheer numbers and a lack of resources make code enforcement difficult.
In suburban areas, zombie homes can hurt property values and make it difficult for agents to sell nearby houses.
Gallagher said neighbors and even real estate agents have been known to mow the lawn of a zombie home to keep up the neighborhood's appearance.
Gallagher added new accounting rules sometimes discourage banks from foreclosing on a home. They don't need to list these homes as liabilities or losses until they foreclose, so sometimes they let these houses sit there.
"Many homeowners have left their homes expecting the bank to take possession," said Gallagher. "Years can pass before the homeowner realizes that the property is still in their name and they are still legally responsible for the property."