Maryland enacts law to fast-track vacant home foreclosures

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has signed a bill that will put vacant home foreclosures on a faster track starting Oct. 1.

"I think it is great news. Properties sitting there vacant and abandoned don't do anybody any good," said Robert Klein, the chairman of Safeguard Properties and nonprofit Community Blight Solutions.

Consumer advocates have opposed fast-tracking of vacant properties in cases where there haven't been clear criteria for establishing the vacancy of the home and protecting residents' rights, but the Maryland bill does not appear to raise any of those concerns.

Under the Maryland law, a property will have to meet at least three of 11 criteria aimed at ensuring it is no longer occupied in order for it to be eligible for fast-tracking.

The law also includes a procedure by which the last known resident is notified in person that the property is entering foreclosure and given the information needed to appear in court to challenge the action.

Similar bills in other states also have been slowly gaining traction.

Vacant foreclosure properties are particularly likely to lose value as they age and can detract from neighboring home values.

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