Zombie properties on the wane, down by nearly half from 2016

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The share of abandoned homes by their owners continues to drop at a faster pace than the overall foreclosure rate, totaling half of what they were three years ago, Attom Data Solutions said.

Of the 304,545 properties in the foreclosure process, 9,612 — or 3.2% — are vacant, according to Attom's third-quarter 2019 Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report.

This compares with 10,219 zombie properties — or 3.4% — of residential properties in foreclosure at the end of the third quarter last year. At the end of the third quarter of 2017, there were 14,312 abandoned properties in foreclosure, while during the third quarter of 2016, there were 18,304 zombie homes — or 4.7% of properties — in foreclosure.

Attom pointed out that the number of properties in the foreclosure process was down by nearly 22% compared with 2016, the number that were empty dropped nearly in half.

"The blight of vacant, decaying properties facing foreclosure has declined dramatically across the United States — another good-news offshoot of the housing boom that's gone on for eight years," Todd Teta, Attom's chief product officer, said in a press release. "A handful of areas still face notable problems with homes abandoned by owners after they get hit with foreclosure claims. But with the economy improving and the housing market still hot, an expanding number of neighborhoods across the country face little or no problem with these so-called zombie properties."

The District of Columbia had the highest percentage of zombie properties at 12.6% (22 properties). It was followed by Oregon at 8.8% (84 properties), Maine at 8.5% (72 properties), Kansas at 7.6% (53 properties) and New Mexico at 7% (135 properties).

While New York had the most zombie properties at 2,428, its rate was slightly below the national average of 3%. Florida had the next highest total, 1,634, with a rate of 4%. Then there was Illinois, 985 (4.3%); Ohio, 891 (5.6%); and New Jersey, 463 (1.4%).

There were 1.1 million vacant investment properties, making up 3.9% of the pre-foreclosure inventory.

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