ATTOM reported 1.3 million residential properties in the United States sit vacant, representing 1.26 percent, or one in 79 homes, across the nation. The company’s 4th Quarter Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report said 284,423 residential properties in the U.S. were in the process of foreclosure in the fourth quarter, up 5.2 percent from the third quarter and up 27.4 percent from a year ago. Rich Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence with ATTOM, said a growing number of homeowners have faced possible foreclosure 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. “The government’s foreclosure moratorium dramatically reduced the number of properties in foreclosure,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence at ATTOM. “Vacant and abandoned properties were among the few homes that could still be foreclosed on during the moratorium, so the number of zombie properties shrank as well. Now that the foreclosure ban has been lifted, we’re likely to see a gradual return to pre-pandemic levels.” The report said among those pre-foreclosure properties, 7,722 are zombie foreclosures (pre-foreclosure properties abandoned by owners) in the fourth quarter, up 0.2 percent from the prior quarter and 3.9 percent from a year ago. The count of zombie properties has grown in each of the last three quarters. The report said despite the increase, the number of zombie-foreclosures remains historically low, representing just a tiny segment of the nation’s total stock of 100.1 million residential properties. Just one of every 12,963 homes in the fourth quarter is vacant and in foreclosure, meaning that most neighborhoods still have no such properties. That ratio is almost exactly the same as in the third quarter, although up 2.5 percent from one in 13,292 a year ago. The portion of pre-foreclosure properties that have been abandoned into zombie status, meanwhile, continues to decline, from 3.3 percent a year ago to 2.8 percent in the third quarter and 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter.
Source: The Mortgage Bankers Association