enLIGHTenment – The Lighting Industry Trade Publication

Housing Trends: Zombies Are Dying

Recent statistics indicate the amount of abandoned properties has declined 22 percent over last year.

A[/mks_dropcap ccording to the 2017 U.S. Residential Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report released October 24 by Irvine, Calif.-based ATTOM Data Solutions – the curator of the nation’s largest multi-sourced property database – nearly 1.4 million (1,367,793) U.S. residential properties (1 to 4 units) were vacant as of the end of the third quarter of 2017 — representing 1.58 percent of all residential properties nationwide.

The 1.58 percent vacant property rate nationwide decreased slightly from 1.63 percent a year ago, but vacant property rates increased from a year ago in 81 of the 149 metropolitan statistical areas analyzed in the report (54 percent), including Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Phoenix.

Housing Trends

The report analyzes public record tax, deed and mortgage data collected by ATTOM Data Solutions —
including foreclosure status, equity, and owner-occupancy status — matched against monthly updated vacant property data from the U.S. Postal Service.

The report also shows that the number of vacant “zombie” pre-foreclosure properties — which have started the foreclosure process, but have not yet been repossessed by the foreclosing lender — decreased 22 percent from one year ago to 14,312 as of the end of the third quarter 2017, 67 percent below the peak of 44,030 in the third quarter of 2013. The number of vacant bank-owned properties decreased 48 percent from one year ago to 24,026 as of the end of the third quarter of 2017.

Zombie foreclosures have dwindled dramatically over the last four years as a supply-starved housing market has soaked up even some of the most highly distressed properties,” notes Daren Blomquist, Senior Vice President at ATTOM Data Solutions.

“There are still pockets of the country with high zombie foreclosure rates, and high vacant property rates in general, primarily in the Rust Belt and parts of the Northeast and Southeast — driven in large part by a high share of non-owner occupied vacant properties in those areas,” he explained. “There is evidence that the ultra-tight inventory environment in some red-hot markets is beginning to ease just a bit, with vacant property rates nudging higher in markets such as San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and Denver.”

Among 149 metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residential properties (1 to 4 units), those with the highest vacancy rates were Flint, Mich.; Youngstown, Ohio; Beaumont-Port Arthur, Tx.; Detroit, Mich.; and Mobile, Alabama.

Among 405 counties with at least 50,000 residential properties, those with the highest vacancy rates were Baltimore City, Md.; Saint Louis City, Mo.; Beaufort County, S.C.; Genesee County, Mich.; and Wayne County, Michigan.

Among 149 metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residential properties, those with the lowest vacancy rates were San Jose, Calif. (0.23 percent); Fort Collins, Colo. (0.24 percent); Lancaster, Pa. (0.26 percent); Manchester, New Hampshire (0.31 percent); and Provo, Utah (0.34 percent).

“The low vacant property rates in the Seattle region are good for landlords and sellers, but not so good for buyers or renters,” says Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market, where the 0.9 percent vacant property rate was well below the national average and ranked No. 41 lowest among the 149 metro areas analyzed in the report. “It is indicative of the very hot housing market in Seattle and I believe that the percentages could drop even further as we move into 2018.”

Among 405 counties with at least 50,000 residential properties, those with the lowest vacancy rates were Loudon County, Va.; Douglas County, Colo.; Spotsylvania County, Va.; Hays County, Tx.; and Shelby County, Alabama.

“As home values and rental rates have continued to escalate across Southern California, vacant property rates have continued to decline across the region,” said Michael Mahon, President at First Team Real Estate covering the Southern California market, where 23 zip codes across the 573 zip codes in the six-county region had no vacant residential properties. “With housing affordability becoming an increasing topic of concern, many residential properties are being converted to rental property inventory in attempt to take advantage of the increasing demand of rental properties within the marketplace.”

Nationwide, there have been a total of 14,312 properties in the foreclosure process and vacant as of the end of the third quarter of 2017. Among 149 metropolitan statistical areas with at least 100,000 residential properties (1 to 4 units), those with the most vacant “zombie” foreclosures were New York-Newark-Jersey City, N.Y.-N.J.; Philadelphia; Chicago; Miami; and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida.





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