SOURCE: RealtyTrac


October 30, 2014 12:01 ET

Vacant "Zombie" Foreclosures Nationwide Decrease 23 Percent From a Year Ago but Increase in 16 States, 60 of 212 Metros

Zombies up More Than 20 Percent in New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia; New York City, Miami, Tampa and Chicago Post Highest Zombie Foreclosure Totals

IRVINE, CA--(Marketwired - Oct 30, 2014) - RealtyTrac® (, the nation's leading source for comprehensive housing data, today released its Q3 2014 Zombie Foreclosure Report, which found that 117,298 homes actively in the foreclosure process had been vacated by the homeowners prior to a completed foreclosure, representing 18 percent of all active foreclosures. These vacant properties will likely end up as short sales, foreclosure auction sales or bank-owned sales in the future.

There were 117,298 owner-vacated foreclosures nationwide in third quarter of 2014 (18 percent of total properties in foreclosure), down 17 percent from 141,406 in the second quarter of 2014 and down 23 percent from 152,033 in the third quarter of 2013.

"The most effective preventative vaccine for the blight caused by vacant, abandoned foreclosures has proven to be a short and efficient foreclosure process," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "Absent that, the best antidote for a zombie foreclosure infestation is a pro-active land bank program like that in Cleveland and more recently Chicago designed to aggressively take possession of vacant foreclosures and rehab or demolish them.

"Meanwhile, markets with lengthy and lengthening foreclosure timelines have unintentionally created a zombie foreclosure breeding ground," Blomquist added. "As we see a backlog of delayed distress finally hit the foreclosure pipeline in some of those markets, the problem is coming more to light."

States and metros bucking the trend with increases in zombie foreclosures
Contrary to the national trend, 16 states saw increases in owner-vacated foreclosures compared to a year ago, including New Jersey (up 75 percent), North Carolina (up 65 percent), Oklahoma (up 37 percent), and New York (up 30 percent) and Alabama (up 29 percent).

Among metros with a population of more than 200,000, 60 metros (28 percent) posted increases in owner-vacated foreclosures compared to a year ago, including Trenton, N.J. (up 106 percent), Atlantic City, N.J. (up 98 percent), Rochester, N.Y. (up 49 percent), Washington, D.C. (up 40 percent), New York (up 38 percent) and Philadelphia (up 21 percent).

Top 20 Metros for Zombie Foreclosures
Metro Area   Total Owner-Vacated Foreclosures   Pct of Total Foreclosures   Pct Change from Q2 2014   Pct Change from Q3 2013
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA   13,366   12%   -2%   38%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA   1,229   7%   -9%   -30%
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI   7,326   17%   -27%   -43%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX   435   13%   -47%   -50%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD   5,405   20%   -11%   21%
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX   309   17%   -4%   -38%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV   1,031   17%   -3%   40%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL   9,869   16%   -24%   -30%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA   1,684   24%   -12%   -22%
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH   544   15%   -27%   -52%
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA   246   6%   -10%   -62%
Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI   698   26%   29%   -6%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA   465   5%   -14%   -73%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ   776   22%   -27%   -52%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA   1,110   23%   -16%   -34%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI   377   18%   -17%   -45%
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA   104   2%   -20%   -79%
St. Louis, MO-IL   481   33%   -43%   -70%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL   7,509   28%   -22%   -26%
Baltimore-Towson, MD   1,374   25%   -14%   -20%

States and metros with the most vacant foreclosures
Nationwide, Florida documented the most zombie foreclosures by far of any state, with 35,913. New York posted the second highest total (12,683), followed by New Jersey (12,133), Illinois (8,678), and Ohio (4,981).

The New York metro area saw the most owner-vacated foreclosures of any metro area nationwide, with 13,366, representing 12 percent of all properties in foreclosure, followed by Miami (9,869), Tampa (7,509), Chicago (7,326), Philadelphia (5,405) and Orlando (3,732).

States and metros with highest percentage of vacant foreclosures
33 states posted a higher percentage of owner-vacated foreclosures than the national average of 18 percent, led by Oregon (36 percent), Nevada (32 percent), Kansas (31 percent) and Maine (28 percent.

Other states with above-average vacant foreclosure rates included Michigan (26 percent), Washington (26 percent), Georgia (25 percent), Arizona (24 percent), and Indiana (24 percent).

Among metros with a population of more than 200,000, 117 metro areas had a higher percentage of owner-vacated foreclosures than the national average of 18 percent, including Las Vegas, Nev. (33 percent), Tampa (28 percent), Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla. (28 percent), Rochester, N.Y. (27 percent), Lakeland, Fla. (27 percent), and Baltimore (25 percent).

States and metros with the biggest decline in zombie foreclosures
Zombie foreclosures declined from a year ago in 33 states, led by Missouri, where they were down 73 percent. Other states with big decreases in zombie foreclosures compared to a year ago included Virginia (down 59 percent), California (down 56 percent), Massachusetts (down 46 percent), New Hampshire (down 45percent), Illinois (down 44 percent) and Ohio (down 41 percent).

"The scary effects of Zombie foreclosures have been minimized across much of Ohio in 2014," said Michael Mahon, executive vice president at HER Realtors, covering the Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio markets. "Low interest rates, increased job creation and greater community education have provided resources and support to many consumers in need of help across Ohio."

Of metros with a population over 200,000, 138 metros (60 percent) posted declines in zombie foreclosures, including Portland, Ore. (down 53 percent), Cleveland (down 52 percent), Phoenix (down 52 percent), Boston (down 52 percent), and Jacksonville, Fla., (down 51 percent).

RealtyTrac gathers data for vacant foreclosures by matching foreclosures in the RealtyTrac database with data collected from the United States Postal Service for addresses that the agency has deemed vacant or where the owner has requested a change of address.

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