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Zombie Property Totals Down in Q4

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.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others.
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