In Chicago, foreclosed properties can go years without owners. They sit in their lots trapped in real estate limbo without a legal occupant, their yards deteriorating along with the interior. These unsightly derelicts are called “zombie properties”, and they drive down general property values in their immediate area. They also carry with them the risk of squatters. When a horde of zombie properties plagues a neighborhood, smart officials in Chicago board-up these properties to prevent intrusion and safety risks to real estate agents and to the neighborhood at large.
You might see a zombie property driving down any road. They often have overgrown lawns and other giveaways of disrepair and neglect. A vacant property becomes a zombie property when lenders have yet to finish foreclosing or take possession of the property. According to statistics from RealtyTrac, 300,000 zombie properties lingered within the United States as of mid-2013. It is estimated that 5,800 zombie properties exist in Chicago alone, and for many derelict homes in Chicago, board-up operations are often denied, making them easy prey for squatters.
Often, zombie properties happen when a lender simply decides that foreclosing, rehabbing, and selling a house will cost more than the expected returns. Zombie properties can attract squatters just like normal zombies attract flies. Zombie properties are most likely to haunt low-income neighborhoods, and intruding squatters present risks to property and safety.
Contracting with a Chicago board-up company can keep a vacant property secure from squatters and thieves while protecting real estate agents and prospectors from harm. A boarded-up house will have its doors and windows covered with plywood, securing them from unwanted guests, including vandals and wild animals. This security ensures preservation of the property and the safety of the people who must maintain it to keep it up to code or prospectors and real estate agents looking to bring the home to a new owner.