Zombie Foreclosures Began ‘Ticking Up’ in Q3

ATTOM Data has released its new third quarter market trends report highlighting the blight of zombie homes and the impact they are having on the economy. 

All in all, the report, which covers the third quarter of 2023, found that there were 1,277,612 vacant properties in the country. That figure represents 1.3%, or 1-in-79 homes, across the nation—the same as in the second quarter of this year. 

Further, the report revealed that 315,425 zombie properties are in the process of foreclosure, up 1.3% from the second quarter of 2023 and up 16.6% year-over-year. A growing number of homeowners have faced possible foreclosure since a nationwide moratorium on lenders pursuing delinquent homeowners, imposed after the Coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020, was lifted in the middle of 2021. 

Among those homes, about 8,800 have been abandoned by the owners and qualify as a zombie foreclosure; this number is up from the prior quarter, or 0.3%, and up 13.9% from a year ago. 

The latest increase marks the sixth straight quarterly gain. However, it was one of the smallest of the recent increases and continued to leave zombie foreclosures representing just a tiny fraction of the nation’s total stock of 101.6 million residential properties. 

“Zombie foreclosures again are ticking up a tiny bit this quarter, tracking along with a small rise in overall foreclosure activity around the country. That’s to be expected, as a handful of homeowners who can’t catch up on overdue mortgage payments just walk away from their properties,” said Rob Barber, CEO for ATTOM. “But the big picture remains the same. Abandoned properties pose almost none of the blight threats they brought a decade ago when far more homeowners were throwing in the towel after the Great Recession of the late 2000s.” 

According to ATTOM, the lack of zombie foreclosures throughout most of the country continues to stand out as one of the most significant effects of the U.S. housing market boom that has more than doubled the national median home value since 2012. 

“With a few exceptions – most notably New York City and Miami – lower-end markets still have the highest portions of zombie homes. That reflects larger portions of households with limited financial resources to avoid foreclosure,” Barber said. “Those areas are likely at higher risk for issues related to zombie foreclosure if the overall housing market turns back downward.” 

Other high-level findings from the third quarter of 2023: 

  • Among 166 metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S. with at least 100,000 residential properties in the third quarter of 2023, those with at least 100 properties facing possible foreclosure and the highest zombie foreclosure rates are Cedar Rapids, IA (12.5% of properties in the foreclosure process are vacant); Peoria, IL (10.8% ); Indianapolis IN (8.9%); Fort Wayne, IN (8.8%) and Youngstown, OH (8.3%). 
  • Aside from Indianapolis, the highest zombie-foreclosure rates in major metro areas with at least 500,000 residential properties and at least 100 homes facing foreclosure in the third quarter of 2023 are in Cleveland, OH (7% of homes in the foreclosure process are vacant); St. Louis, MO (6.5%); Baltimore, MD (5.8%) and Pittsburgh, PA (5.7%). 
  • Among the 23.4 million investor-owned homes throughout the U.S. in the third quarter of 2023, about 836,000 are vacant, or 3.6%. The highest levels of vacant investor-owned homes are in Indiana (6.9% vacant), Oklahoma (6.2%), Alabama (6.1%), Illinois (6%) and Ohio (5.9%). 
  • Among the roughly 14,800 foreclosed, bank-owned homes in the U.S. during the third quarter of 2023, 15.8% are vacant. In states with at least 50 bank-owned homes, the largest vacancy rates are in Kansas (30.4% vacant), Iowa (26.6% vacant), Ohio (26.1%), Michigan (25.9%) and Indiana (22.6%). 
  • The highest zombie-foreclosure rates in U.S. counties with at least 500 properties in the foreclosure process during the third quarter of 2023 are in Peoria County, IL (12.3% zombie foreclosures); Baltimore County, MD (12.2%); Marion County (Indianapolis), IN (12.1%); Broome County (Binghamton), NY (11.7%) and Lake County, IN (outside Chicago, IL) (9.4%). 
  • Among 435 counties with at least 50,000 residential properties in the third quarter of 2023, zombie foreclosures represent the highest portion of all homes in Broome County (Binghamton), NY (1-in- 579 properties); Peoria County, IL (1-in- 1,003); Suffolk County, NY (eastern Long Island) (1-in-1,132); Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), OH (1-in-1,144) and Tazewell County, IL (outside Peoria) (1-in-1,181). 
  • Among zip codes with enough data to analyze, 45 of the 50 with the largest portions of overall homes in zombie status are in New York, Ohio and Illinois, including seven in Cleveland, OH. The largest ratios are in zip codes 10993 in Rockland County (West Haverstraw), NY (1-in-191 homes); 73554 in Greer County (Mangum), OK (1-in-222); 44108 in Cleveland, OH (1-in-255); 44127 in Cleveland, OH (1-in-270) and 13754 in Broome County (Deposit), NY (1-in-286).

Click here to view the report in its entirety.

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