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Zombie Property Count Inches Up

The ever present “zombie property” now represents one in just 78 units as the Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure from ATTOM Data showed that there were 1,277,162 properties sitting vacant across the country during the third quarter of 2022. This number represents 1.3% of the total number of homes. 

In addition, the report found that there were 270,470 residential properties in the country were in some point in the foreclosure process during the third quarter, a number up 4.4% from the second quarter and up 25.5% year-over-year. 

The latest increase marks the fourth straight quarter that the count of pre-foreclosure properties has increased since a nationwide moratorium on lenders pursuing delinquent homeowners, imposed after the Coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, was lifted at the end of July 2021. 

Among those pre-foreclosure properties, 7,707 are zombie-foreclosures (pre-foreclosure properties that sit vacant) in the third quarter of 2022, up 1.8% from the prior quarter and 2.2% from a year ago. 

"We see two trends heading in opposite directions—the number of vacant properties continues to decline and the number of zombie properties continues to increase, although neither trend appears to be particularly worrisome," said Rick Sharga, Executive Vice President of Market Intelligence at ATTOM. "Vacancy rates should continue to be low as investor and prospective homebuyers compete for limited inventory. And the number of zombie properties should continue to increase slowly as foreclosure activity climbs back from historically low levels due to government intervention." 

The level of all homes sitting empty as zombie properties has grown for the second quarter in a row and now is up 3.6% from the one in 13,424 recorded in the first quarter of 2022. 

The latest bump-ups in overall and zombie-property counts - while presenting an issue to watch - comes at a time when the relentless U.S. housing market boom has continued into its 11th year despite forces that threaten to slow it down. 

Other high-level findings from the third quarter of 2022: 

  • Among metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S. with at least 100,000 residential properties and at least 100 properties facing possible foreclosure in the third quarter of 2022, the highest zombie rates are in Wichita, KS (11.9% of properties in the foreclosure process are vacant); Peoria, IL (10.5%); Cleveland, OH (8.9%); Syracuse, NY (8.7%) and South Bend, IN (8.2%). 
  • Aside from Cleveland, 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 2022 are in Baltimore, MD (7.4% of homes in the foreclosure process are vacant); St. Louis, MO (5.6%); Pittsburgh, PA (5.6%); Tampa, FL (4.7%) and Indianapolis, IN (4.6%). 
  • Among the roughly 4,200 foreclosed, bank-owned homes in the U.S. during the third quarter of 2022, 8.2% are vacant. In states with at least 50 bank-owned homes, the largest vacancy rates are in Ohio (14.5% vacant), Pennsylvania (13%), Illinois (12.5%), New York (11%) and Maryland (10.5%). 
  • The highest zombie-foreclosure rates in U.S. counties with at least 500 properties in the foreclosure process during the third quarter of 2022 are in Broome County (Binghamton), NY (11.4% zombie foreclosures); Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), OH (10.1%); Pinellas County (Clearwater), FL (9.9%); Onondaga County (Syracuse), NY (9.3%) and Oneida County, NY (outside Syracuse) (8.5%).  
  • Among 425 counties with at least 50,000 residential properties, those with the largest portion of total homes in zombie-foreclosure status during the third quarter of 2022 are Broome County (Binghamton), NY (one of every 647 properties); Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), OH (one in 959); Suffolk County (eastern Long Island), NY (one in 1,188); Peoria County, IL (one in 1,228) and Oneida County, NY (outside Syracuse) (one in 1,437). 

Click here to view the report in its entirety.

About Author: Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for DS News and MReport. 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 [email protected]
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