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There were approximately 1.4 million of vacant residential properties as of the end of the third quarter, according to new data from ATTOM Data Solutions. This represents 1.6 percent of all residential properties in the U.S.
While the quantity of vacant properties is in decline—the third quarter figures represented a three percent quarterly decline and a nine percent year-over-year drop—the number of bank-owned (REO) residential vacancies hit 46,604 as of the end of the third quarter, up seven percent from the previous quarter and up a staggering 67 percent from the third quarter of 2015. Florida had the highest number of REO vacancies among the states, with 5,880 properties, while Detroit had the highest number among major metro markets, with 2,386 properties.
However, there was better news involving the so-called “zombie foreclosures” (vacant properties in the foreclosure process): the 18,304 residential properties in this state, which accounted for 4.7 percent of all residential properties in foreclosure, marked a five percent drop from the previous quarter and a nine percent drop from one year ago. New Jersey led the states with zombie foreclosures (3,698 properties) while New York City had highest number among major metro areas (3,590).
“A strong seller’s market along with political pressure has likely motivated lenders to complete the foreclosure process over the past year on many vacant properties that were lingering in foreclosure limbo for years,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “While that has reduced the number of vacant properties in the foreclosure process … it has also resulted in a corresponding rise in the number of vacant bank-owned homes. Assuming that the foreclosing lenders are maintaining these properties and paying the property taxes, they pose less of a threat to neighborhood quality than zombie foreclosures, but they still represent latent inventory in an inventory-starved housing market.”