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Foreclosure Increase Leads to Rise in Vacant Bank REO

The percentage of vacant bank-owned properties is larger now versus a year ago as banks are completing more foreclosures, according to Attom Data Solutions.

Overall there are fewer abandoned properties, as roughly 1.4 million, or 1.6% of all residential properties, were vacant at the end of the third quarter, RealtyTrac's parent company Attom reported in its U.S. Residential Property Vacancy and Zombie Foreclosure Report Thursday. That figure is down 3% from the previous quarter and down 9% year-over-year.

Similarly, the number of zombie foreclosures fell 9% from the third quarter of 2015 to 18,304. As a share of the total properties in the foreclosure process, 4.7% were vacant.

But as the number of real estate owned properties has grown, it has led to an increase in bank-owned vacant homes. Attom found that there were 46,604 vacant bank-owned residential properties at the end of the third quarter, which represents an increase of 7% from the previous quarter and up 67% from 2015.

This vacancy situation is the result of a seller's market that has motivated lenders to complete foreclosures on vacant properties, according to Attom Data Solutions Senior Vice President Daren Blomquist.

"While that has reduced the number of vacant properties in the foreclosure process — so-called zombie foreclosures — it has also resulted in a corresponding rise in the number of vacant bank-owned homes," Blomquist said in a news release.

"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."

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