Property analytics firm, ATTOM recently reported more than 1.3 million ‘zombie’ homes in the US. The definition of a ‘zombie’ property is a home abandoned by homeowners who have defaulted on their mortgage due to a pending foreclosure and remains vacant, while the title remains in their name along with all financial responsibilities.
According to the report, approximately 1,312,410 homes sit vacant and are in foreclosure status across the country, which represents one in 75 residential properties or 1.3% of the housing market.
New York state reported the highest number of zombie properties in the US” with 2,049, followed by Ohio with 925 and Florida reported 907 vacant homes.
The analytic firm warned “the foreclosure scenario stands at a precipice”, with the number of zombie properties “likely to increase over the coming year. That’s because lenders can resume taking back properties from homeowners who fell far behind on loan payments during the pandemic, following the recent end of a 15-month foreclosure moratorium that affected most mortgage payers.”
Chief product officer of ATTOM, Todd Teta, said: “Zombie foreclosures are in a holding pattern this quarter – at least for now. They’re still totally off the radar screen in most parts of the country, with none in most neighborhoods. But that’s probably going to change soon because lenders can now return to court and take back properties from owners who can’t keep up on their mortgage payments. Foreclosure activity is already on the upswing. So, depending on how fast cases wind through the courts, it’s probably just a matter of time before zombie properties begin creeping back into the mix.”
The number of properties that have been abandoned by homeowners decreased slightly from 3.5% in the third quarter of 2021 to 3.3% in the fourth quarter.
The report stated, “Just one of every 13,292 homes in the fourth quarter are vacant and in foreclosure, down from one in 13,060 in the third quarter of 2021 and one in 13,074 in the fourth quarter of last year.”
According to ATOM, much of that will depend on how many delinquent homeowners will be able to work out repayment plans.