“Zombie” house coming back to life

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) – Dick Conklin and his neighbors on Glenwillow Driver are more hopeful than ever that changes are about to come to a vacant house that has been threatening to bring down their neighborhood in the Town of Hamburg.

More than two years ago, the homeowners moved out after the bank foreclosed on the mortgage, but the bank did little to keep the property from becoming an eyesore.

“When situations like this happen, they [the banks] shouldn’t just leave. I think it is up to them to take care of this until there is a new owner,” said Glenwillow Drive neighbor Joe Gerace, when Call 4 Action reported on the dilemma back in September.

Some call these “zombie properties”, because no one lives there, due to foreclosure, but as long as the house sits empty, it is a nightmare for neighbors.

But neighbors on Glenwillow Drive chose to fight back. Neighbors cut the grass, shoveled the snow, and when the electricity was shut off, Conklin ran an extension cord from his house to the basement, to keep the sump pump going.

Then the bank actually made the water problem worse. They sent a crew over to lock the house up, forcing Conklin to disconnect the sump pump, and pull out his extension cord, so there was nothing to prevent rainwater from flooding the basement.

Now a second foreclosure seems to be turning things around. Fannie Mae, the national housing agency that purchases mortgages from banks, foreclosed on the property, and has taken ownership of the vacant property.

The vacant home is now managed by a local realtor who met with neighbors over the weekend, to explain the plan for rehabilitating the property.

The realtor plans to landscape the property, take out the swimming pool, and hire a contractor to remove the mold that built up in the basement, when the sump pump was out of commission.

The improvements may be a bonus for folks on Glenwillow Drive who refused to surrender to their neighborhood zombie, and Conklin said they are hopeful, “We were not going to go over there and start painting, or anything, but it was all we could do.”
Once the improvements are made, the realtor plans to put the house back on the market.

“Well it’s about time. It has been sitting here for two years, doing nothing. I am sure somebody could use it,” Conklin said about the possibly of a new neighbor moving in.

The realtor managing the property set out a timetable for the renovations, and said if everything goes as planned, the “For sale” sign could go up by the end of the month, bringing that “zombie” property back to life.

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