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A neighborhood's chances of recovering quickly from the hung-over U.S. housing market depend not only on how many foreclosed homes it has but also, it seems, on which banks own the properties.
Bank of America, for instance, takes almost two months longer on average to sell a foreclosed property than smaller EverBank Financial does, according to new, nationwide data from the research company RealtyTrac Inc. And Bank of America, the lending giant that inherited many of its troubled mortgages when it bought Countrywide Financial in 2008, has been taking longer this year to sell its foreclosure properties than it took last year.
A lot of things can happen when long-abandoned houses sit on the market for additional months. By slowly releasing their foreclosed properties, for instance, some lenders have benefited from rising home prices this year.
But those long-held properties also rack up more unpaid association fees, overdue property taxes, repair costs, neighborhood complaints and even code-enforcement fines as the months wear on.
At Cranes Roost Villas in Altamonte Springs, Fla., the first thing residents and visitors see as they enter the gated community is a leaky corner unit draped in blue tarp so long that the plastic sheeting has started to disintegrate.
"Bank of America put a bright-blue tarp on top of roof rather than repair it," said longtime resident Richard Campanaro. "Half of it has blown off. It would make a wonderful haunted house if you wanted to do something for Halloween. It's terrible--I wouldn't even want to enter the property."
Last year, it took Bank of America an average of 5.3 months to sell a foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac. So far this year, it has averaged 6.7 months. Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo & Co. and Citigroup have also fallen further behind in selling their foreclosed properties. Through September, all of them were taking at least 20 percent longer than they took in 2011, based on RealtyTrac's nationwide data.