NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – It is an eyesore in this neighborhood of well-maintained Colonial-style homes. The two-story house on Goundry Street in North Tonawanda has been vacant for years, and the owner, Donna Neal has even tried give it back to the bank for a dollar.
“Hasn’t been my house, I haven’t lived in it. I haven’t wanted it, tried to give it to them,” said Neal.
Neal’s house is what many people are now calling a “zombie” property. It’s a house, but not a home.
The owner can’t give the property away because the bank says more is owed on the mortgage–than the property is worth.
Neighbors, like Stan Fularz are getting frustrated because the house is like a sore thumb. Fularz offered to buy the house, but Donna says the bank would not allow it, since Stan’s offer wasn’t enough to pay off the mortgage.
Stan’s plan for the house: “Yes, I wanted to tear it down, open up the yard, double the size of my lot,” so Donna contacted Call 4 Action.
Back in 2000 Donna Neal owned the house jointly with her mother, but her mother died, and Donna said she couldn’t keep up the payments, so she moved into assisted living.
After Donna vacated the house, the bank took over, but would take control of the title, and Neal said, they would not foreclose on the property either.
”They just keep sending me all these ridiculous things and paying all the bills, and the house is falling apart.”
In the meantime, the bank is paying the taxes, the insurance, sewer and water, and the upkeep of the property, which is puzzling to Fularz who suspects the house is costing the bank–and the Federal Housing Administration which guaranteed the loan–more than the loss if they had accepted his original offer.
Donna has also learned there are liens on the property that have to be paid before the deed can change hands, and seems to be how Goundry St. ends up with this zombie property: Stan can’t buy it, Donna can’t give it away, and the bank won’t take the title.
“They put a new roof on it. They cleaned out the backyard, and emptied out the house,” and Donna Neal asks herself, “who’s decision is it for the bank to keep losing money by the day? Bank statements indicated more than $50,000 is owed on a mortgage that started out at about $40,000. Shouldn’t the bank be looking to cut its losses?”