Property data provider ATTOM Data Solutions Thursday reported that about 1.6 million residential properties, or 1.6% of all U.S. homes, are vacant. That is according to the Q4 2020 Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report, which offers a snapshot of the market in the fourth quarter.
The report analyzes foreclosure status, equity, and owner-occupancy status matched against monthly updated vacancy data.
According to the report, 200,065 properties are in the process of foreclosure in Q4, down 7.3% from Q3, while the number of empty properties, 7,612, is down 4.4%.
"The portion of pre-foreclosure properties that have been abandoned into zombie status has ticked up slightly, from 3.7% in the third quarter of 2020 to 3.8% this quarter," the researchers reported. "Among the nation’s stock of 99.5 million residential properties, zombie properties continue to represent just a tiny fraction—only one of every 13,100 homes."
Researchers saw a Q4 drop in the number of properties at some point in the foreclosure process. The number of "zombies" remains steady "during a time when the federal government continues trying to shield the housing market from an economic slide stemming from the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic," they said.
"A key measure remains a temporary prohibition against lenders foreclosing on government-backed mortgages," according to the report. The ban, which affects about 70% of U.S. home loans, was enacted under the CARES Act in March and then extended.
“Zombie foreclosures have been barely an issue around most of the country for over a year, and they’re even less of one now. A surprisingly strong housing market and a temporary ban on foreclosures continues to leave most neighborhoods without a single such property,” said Todd Teta, Chief Product Officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. “All that could change in a flash when foreclosures are allowed to resume or if the Coronavirus takes a toll on the market. But for now, things are steady as they go, with the overall numbers down and the rates of zombie properties pretty much unchanged.”
Visit ATTOM for a regional breakdown of the data. The full report can be found here.