Zombie Foreclosures Shrinking

Releasing its 2024 second-quarter Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report, ATTOM Data has revealed that that 1.3 million (or 1,289,387 to be exact) residential properties in the country sit vacant. This figure, while significant, represents 1.3% of properties—or to put it another way, one in 79 homes; this number has essentially remained the same from the first quarter of 2024. 

The report analyzes publicly recorded real estate data collected by ATTOM—including foreclosure status, equity and owner-occupancy status—matched against monthly updated vacancy data. 

In terms of foreclosures, the report stated that 237,208 residential dwellings throughout the country are in the process of active foreclosure during the second quarter, down 2.3% from the first quarter of the year and down 23.9% year-over-year. 

Foreclosure activity has declined this year following a surge in cases that hit after a nationwide moratorium on lenders pursuing delinquent homeowners, imposed during the Coronavirus pandemic, was lifted in the middle of 2021. 

Among those pre-foreclosure properties are about 6,945 sitting vacant as zombie foreclosures (pre-foreclosure properties abandoned by owners) in the second quarter of 2024. That figure is also down from the prior quarter, by 5.4%, and down 20.6% from a year ago. 

Zombie homes themselves only account for a fraction of the total housing stock—the current report from ATTOM puts the number at one in 14,724 homes, a ratio that is down form one in 13,905 during the first quarter and one in 11,577 year-over-year. Zombie foreclosures numbers remain so small that most neighborhoods around the country face little or no threat of the blight and decay those homes can spread. 

The portion of pre-foreclosure properties that have been abandoned into zombie status, meanwhile, also went down slightly, from 3% in the first quarter of 2024 to 2.9% in the current quarter. 

“Predictions of a huge spike in foreclosures after the moratorium, with the potential for a surge in zombie properties, never came true. Indeed, the opposite has happened, as abandoned homes in foreclosure continue to get harder and harder to find around the country,” said Rob Barber, ATTOM’s CEO. “Some signs have popped up over the past year that the long U.S. housing market boom is giving back some of its gains, which could lead to declining equity and more foreclosures. We are still far from losing the benefit of having zombie properties nearly disappear from the housing market landscape.” 

The dip in the number of zombie properties during the second quarter comes as the housing market remains buoyed by 12 years of price increases despite the recent markers of a slowdown. 

The nationwide median home value dropped quarterly in the early months of 2024 by 4 percent, to $330,000, but was still up 3 percent from a year earlier, according to ATTOM’s home sales analysis. It has increased every year since 2012, more than doubling during that time. Those gains have fueled a historic rise in homeowner wealth to the point where almost 95 percent of owners paying off mortgages have at least some equity built up and nearly 50 percent owe less than half the estimated value of their properties. 

Zombie foreclosures drop in more than half the country, remaining a non-issue in most neighborhoods 

A total of 6,945 residential properties facing possible foreclosure have been vacated by their owners nationwide in the second quarter of 2024, down from 7,338 in the first quarter of 2024 and 8,752 in the second quarter of 2023. The number of zombie properties has decreased quarterly in 30 states and annually in 38. 

As those numbers keep dwindling, the biggest decreases from the first quarter to the second quarter of 2024 in states with at least 50 zombie homes are in Ohio (zombie properties down 22%, from 597 to 466), Maryland (down 17%, from 104 to 86), South Carolina (down 14%, from 74 to 64), California (down 13%, from 310 to 269), and North Carolina (down 12%, from 67 to 59). 

The only quarterly increases among states with at least 50 zombie foreclosures are in Massachusetts (zombie properties up 12%, from 68 to 76) and Illinois (up 1%, from 719 to 724). 

Click here for the report in its entirety. 

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Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for MortgagePoint. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at kyle.horst@thefivestar.com.
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