Coronavirus Pandemic Driving Spike in Foreclosure Homes in U.S.

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BUSINESSWIRE – ATTOM Data Solutions third-quarter 2020 Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report is showing that 1.5 million (1,570,265) residential properties in the United States are vacant, representing 1.6 percent of all homes.

The third quarter analysis shows that about 216,000 homes are in the process of foreclosure, with about 7,960, or 3.7 percent, sitting empty as so-called ‘zombie foreclosures.’

The count of properties in the process of foreclosure (215,886) in the third quarter of 2020 is down 16 percent from the second quarter of 2020 (258,024). But the percentage of those properties that have been abandoned as zombie foreclosures is up from 3 percent in the second quarter of 2020.

Despite the increase, the 7,961 zombie foreclosure properties continue to represent just a tiny portion – one of every 12,500 homes – of the nation’s stock of 99.4 million residential properties.

The third-quarter 2020 data shows a drop in the number of homes at some point in the foreclosure process, but an increase in the level sitting vacant at a time when the federal government is trying to shield the housing market from an economic slide stemming from the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic.

Among the government’s key measures is a temporary prohibition against lenders foreclosing on government-backed mortgages. The ban, which is set to expire on August 31, 2020, and affects about 70 percent of home loans in the United States, was enacted under the CARES Act passed by Congress in March of this year and then extended to help borrowers who have lost jobs or other sources of income during the pandemic.

“Abandoned homes in foreclosure remain little more than a spot on the radar screen in most parts of the United States, posing few, if any, problems from neighborhood to neighborhood. But the latest numbers do throw a small potential red flag into the air, given the increase in the percentage of zombie foreclosures,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions.

Midwest and South have highest zombie foreclosures rates

A total of 7,961 residential properties facing possible foreclosure have been vacated by their owners nationwide in the third quarter of 2020. That figure comprises 3.7 percent, or one in 27, of all properties in the foreclosure process. Those numbers are up from 3 percent, or one in 34, in the second quarter of 2020, and 3.2 percent, or one in 32, in the third quarter of last year.

States where zombie-foreclosure rates exceeding the national percentage are clustered in the Midwest and South, including Kansas (15 percent, or one in seven, properties in the foreclosure process), Missouri (11.2 percent, or one in nine), Georgia (11 percent, or one in nine), Kentucky (10.7 percent, or one in nine) and Tennessee (10.3 percent, or one in 10).

States where the rates fall below the national level are mainly in the Northeast and West, including Utah (1.1 percent, or one in 87 properties in the foreclosure process), Idaho (1.2 percent, or one in 84), New Jersey (1.6 percent, or one in 62), Colorado (1.8 percent, or one in 56) and California (2 percent, or one in 50).

Zombie rates rise in all but one state

Zombie-foreclosure rates rose from the second to the third quarter of 2020 in every state but Hawaii, while also decreasing in the District of Columbia. States with the largest increases included Kansas (up from 7.4 percent to 15 percent of all properties in the foreclosure process), Missouri (up from 4 percent to 11.2 percent), Georgia (up from 3.9 percent to 11 percent), Kentucky (up from 3.9 percent to 10.7 percent) and Nebraska (up from 4 percent to 10.3 percent).

“It appears that an increased number of vacant foreclosure properties may be an unintended consequence of the foreclosure moratoria put in place by Federal, State, and Local Governments,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at RealtyTrac. “Vacant properties can contribute to neighborhood blight, and become safety hazards – especially during a pandemic. So the sooner these abandoned properties can be processed and sold to homebuyers or investors, the better it will be for communities and neighborhoods across the country.”

Highest numbers of zombie properties in Northeastern and Midwestern states

New York continues to have the highest actual number of zombie properties (2,136), followed by Florida (1,028), Illinois (971), Ohio (887) and New Jersey (356).

California leads in the west, with 265, while Oklahoma leads in the South, with 133.

Northeast and Midwest have highest ratios of zombie foreclosure as portion of all residential properties

Despite increases in the rates of zombie foreclosures in the third quarter of 2020, those properties represent just one in every 12,486 residential properties of all kinds in the United States, including those not facing possible bank takeover.

States with the highest ratios are concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest, including New York (one in 1,934 properties), Illinois (one in 4,077), Ohio (one in 4,328), Florida (one in 6,747) and New Jersey (one in 7,476).

States with the lowest ratios include Idaho (one in 188,805 properties), Utah (one in 98,766), Arkansas (one in 78,267), Texas (one in 70,746) and Virginia (one in 69,686).

Other high-level findings from third-quarter data:

Among 158 metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residential properties in Q3 2020, the highest zombie-foreclosure rates include Peoria, IL (16.4 percent of properties in the foreclosure process); Wichita, KS (15.3 percent); Kansas City, MO (13.4 percent); Omaha, NE (12.7 percent) and Cleveland, OH (12.6 percent).

Among major metro areas with at least 500,000 residential properties, the lowest zombie foreclosure rates are in Austin, TX (no zombie foreclosure properties); San Francisco, CA (0.7 percent); Philadelphia, PA (1.6 percent); Los Angeles, CA (1.7 percent) and Charlotte, NC (1.8 percent).

The top zombie-foreclosure rates in counties with at least 500 properties in foreclosure include Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), OH (14.1 percent); Broome County (Binghamton), NY (10.9 percent); Onondaga County (Syracuse), NY (10 percent); Pinellas County (Clearwater), FL (8.5 percent) and Summit County (Akron), OH (7.8 percent).

Among zip codes with at least 100 properties in foreclosure, those where the zombie foreclosure rate exceeds 5 percent remain concentrated in New York, Florida, Ohio and Illinois. Those zip codes with the top percentages include 44108, 44112 and 44105, all in Cleveland, OH, 61604 in Peoria, IL, and 13601 in Watertown, NY.

The highest levels of vacant investor-owned homes are in Indiana (8.5 percent), Kansas (6.8 percent), Ohio (6.5 percent), Rhode Island (6.3 percent) and Mississippi 6.1 percent).

The highest overall vacancy rates for all residential properties remain in Kansas (2.7 percent), Mississippi (2.7 percent), Oklahoma (2.7 percent), Tennessee (2.6 percent) and Indiana (2.5 percent). The lowest are in New Hampshire (0.4 percent), Delaware (0.4 percent), Vermont (0.5 percent), Idaho (0.6 percent) and Colorado (0.8 percent).