Florida Ghost Town…

We all know what happens when a bank forecloses on a home. It is a nightmare for everyone involved: the defaulting homeowners who lose their home, the banks who lose money on their loan, and the neighbors whose homes decrease in value. But what happens when a developer gets foreclosed upon? Back in January, CBS4 in Florida City reported on the Florida Keys Townhomes, a residential community development that has recently learned exactly what can happen, and the results seem like they could be a good story for a Stephen King novel.

A year ago, it seemed like a great plan. Buy a new home in a residential community where you could raise a family and enjoy the basketball courts, pool, barbeque pits, playgrounds and the other amenities provided by the development. Even though the development wasn’t fully completed, it was only a matter of time, so you signed the papers and moved in.  A couple weeks later, on a stop to City Hall, you find out that the entire development was being foreclosed upon. This is what happened to Jorge Pichardo and his family, one of only ten families that bought homes in the Florida Keys development. “We’re paying. We can pay.” Jorge told CBS4 Reporter David Sutta. “The thing is that we didn’t foreclose. The developers foreclosed.”

Jorge and the other ten families are now stuck, living in an unfinished, undeveloped ghost town of sorts. The story reports that there are “rows of empty townhouses [that] sit on blocks of paved roads being devoured by weeds”. Of the 614 promised units, only 70 were ever built, and only the ten families living in the community purchased homes. Well, this situation is a real doozey indeed. Is anyone else picturing a Lord of the Flies power struggle between the ten families, war breaks out, and one day, the National Guard enters into town seeing these people acting as savages, and then everyone starts crying etc?…..
Ok, that’s taking it a bit far. But what is going to be next for these people? They obviously can’t rent or sell their homes. In fact, according to the CBS4 report, their “community” barely even exists. The U.S. postal service doesn’t deliver mail and there are no street lights. When thieves began ransacking the homes, Jorge called the police and they couldn’t even find them in the system. “They transferred us to Homestead Police. Homestead couldn’t find us. We got transferred to Miami-Dade police. Miami-Dade finally said ‘You know what? This address and this zip code actually belong to Florida City'”. Well at least now, the Florida City police are regularly patrolling their streets, but that’s about the only respite the ten families in there are getting from their dire situation.

The people of Florida Keys Townhomes may be the only example of when not getting foreclosed upon can bite you in the ass harder than if you were. I’m fascinated by this situation. I can’t imagine how eerie it must be to live there. Is there any sense of normalcy there? Upon completing this blog, I’m going to my boss to see if he’ll fly me out there to do a full story on this foreclosed upon community. Then I can go there and report back first hand, just how restless the natives are getting, and what is happening in the every day life of the families that lost their community but not their homes.

By Andrew Brentan

18 thoughts on “Florida Ghost Town…”

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  3. This is what happened to our first home. The developer was foreclosed–not us. But we’re still the one who suffered the most because we couldn’t live in our home anymore. Now, we’re living in my mother’s house. We want to buy another house after the mess of our first one is over.

  4. Rebecca in San Diego

    I have a friend that purchased a home in the Thermal, Salton City area. You want to talk about a Ghost Town? Check out the Salton City! I went out there to help them move back to the San Diego area a few months ago and I bet that 2 out of 3 homes are vacant bank owned homes.

    I found a bunch of bank owned listings on this site, here http://www.teamaguilar.com/reo-properties.html

  5. there is a subdivision in modesto with 2 new golf courses and about 100 homes and it looks like the entire thing is going under. they spent like $100mil on those golf courses, and the homes started out at about $700k. now they are selling for $300k from the bank, and there is literally nothing out there other than the houses and the golf courses, and a bunch of people living in the middle of nowhere. such a bummer.

  6. Meg Zoller-Houston Realtor

    Wow, what a really sad story for those families. It would be nice to see another developer come in and take over-but right now I would agree that has to be such an odd situation for those home owners to find themselves stuck in. Such a shame.

    Meg Zoller-Houston Realtor’s last blog post..Houston Real Estate Reaps Benefits of Statewide Population Growth

  7. I’ve heard of developers actually staging their developments so that when you drive in there are Families in homes, children playing in the yards, Mom & Dad barbecuing in the back. Everything looks good to the Buyer who writes his offer only to find out that it was kall staged for the developers Open House. It’s a scene right out of the Paul Neuman movie “The Sting”. Buyer Beware never had more meaning than it does today.

  8. Curtis Reddehase

    This is a severe problem with many mobile home communities in this area. Buyers purchase a home, have it moved to a community where they lease the lots. They are great neighborhoods with with all the ammenities mentioned. Then the communities are forclosed on and the mobile home owners have to move. It is very exspensive to move one and extremely hard to find a lender who will loan on one after it has been moved from its original location.

  9. I’m in a coastal town on the Gulf Coast of Florida in Pinellas county (South of Clearwater). We don’t have a ton of REOs but Banks are starting to come around on short sales. Our short sale closing percentage was about 10%. We are now seeing 20-25% closing ratio. Homes are (finally) starting to become more affordable and hey, people still love to move to Florida for the weather (like San Diego!) Of course we are in the most highly populated (per capita mile) of any county in Florida. Seminole Fl Homes for Sale,

  10. I agree with Curtis that many problems arise for families who live in mobile homes. Mobile homes are too costly and a far from main township. If construction of townships is foreclosed, then mobile home owners have to move on. It’s extremely painful for home owners who took big loans for their home.

    ella’s last blog post..Guidelines for choosing an authentic seo service provider

  11. Trader Course Reviews

    I don’t have any idea on what Florida look at. But I feel sad to Jorge and the other ten families that are stuck, living in an unfinished, undeveloped ghost town of sorts.

  12. Wow, what a sad situation to be in; watching the wonderful neighborhood you were supposed have not get built and just stall into nothingness would be so frustrating. My heart goes out to those families in hopes that a developer comes and scoops up the project so it can be finished.

  13. It is sad to think of the families who were trying to build a dream. I do hope that the darkest phase of the recession is behind us.

  14. Hampstead Estate Agent

    Its a terrible story. I like the line… they lost thier community but not there home

    Hampstead Estate Agent’s last blog post..West Hampstead Property Investment

  15. What a nightmare to buy a house in a lovely, unfinished development and have it turn into life in a “dark alley”. I can also see how the police had a hard time finding them. With only ten houses out of seventy with actual residents, will the companies that make even the most advanced and professional navigational devices include this ghost town to the list of homes? I don’t think so, especially if even the post office won’t deliver.

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