Property values in Queens are on the rebound from the housing crisis, but despite increases in median home values, the concern over the growing number of blighted, abandoned houses is very much real throughout the borough.
There are currently 172 properties in Queens that realtors call “zombie homes,” according to RealtyTrac, a national real estate tracking company. These are properties that remained vacant during New York’s nearly three-year-long foreclosure process, and in many cases have fallen into disrepair.
Lenders pay property taxes in instances when owners abandon homes and fail to complete the foreclosure process, but often don’t make an attempt to maintain or secure the properties.
There are an additional 110 houses in Queens, mostly in Jamaica, that have been abandoned for decades under the stewardship of the New York City Housing Authority. But that number is slowly shrinking as the housing authority partners with nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity to renovate and place low-income families in them, a NYCHA spokeswoman said.
Between March 2013 and now, more than 6,000 written notices of a lawsuit were filed in Queens, which are the first state filings that result from mortgage default, property tax delinquency or common unpaid charges. Over 20 percent of the properties are vacated upon the first filing, according to RealtyTrac.
So even if a property isn’t a “zombie,” eligible for demolition, there are often hundreds more properties that are left vacant for months at a time.