Based on ATTOM's newly released third-quarter 2023 Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report, 1.3 million (1,277,612) residential properties in the United States are vacant. That figure represents 1.3 percent, or one in 79 homes, across the nation - the same as in the second quarter of this year.
The report also reveals that 315,425 residential properties in the U.S. are in the process of foreclosure in the third quarter of this year, up 1.3 percent from the second quarter of 2023 and up 16.6 percent from the third quarter of 2022. A growing number of homeowners have faced possible foreclosure since a nationwide moratorium on lenders pursuing delinquent homeowners, imposed after the Coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020, was lifted in the middle of 2021.
Among those pre-foreclosure properties, about 8,800 sit vacant as zombie foreclosures (pre-foreclosure properties abandoned by owners) in the third quarter of 2023. That figure is up slightly from the prior quarter, by 0.3 percent, and up 13.9 percent from a year ago.
The latest increase marks the sixth straight quarterly gain. However, it was one of the smallest of the recent increases and continued to leave zombie foreclosures representing just a tiny fraction of the nation's total stock of 101.6 million residential properties.
"Zombie foreclosures again are ticking up a tiny bit this quarter, tracking along with a small rise in overall foreclosure activity around the country. That's to be expected, as a handful of homeowners who can't catch up on overdue mortgage payments just walk away from their properties," said Rob Barber, CEO for ATTOM. "But the big picture remains the same. Abandoned properties pose almost none of the blight threats they brought a decade ago when far more homeowners were throwing in the towel after the Great Recession of the late 2000s.."
The lack of zombie foreclosures throughout most of the country continues to stand out as one of the most significant effects of the U.S. housing market boom that has more than doubled the national median home value since 2012.
The price runup resumed in the second quarter of this year after temporarily stalling in the second half of 2022, pushing the median single-family home price up another 10 percent nationwide and raising values in almost all major housing markets around the country. That resumed an upward path of home equity and home-selling profits, giving delinquent homeowners ever more incentive and options to stay out of foreclosure.
"With a few exceptions - most notably New York City and Miami - lower-end markets still have the highest portions of zombie homes. That reflects larger portions of households with limited financial resources to avoid foreclosure," Barber said. "Those areas are likely at higher risk for issues related to zombie foreclosure if the overall housing market turns back downward."
Zombie foreclosures tick upward again but still posing few problems
A total of 8,782 residential properties facing possible foreclosure have been vacated by their owners nationwide in the third quarter of 2023, up from 8,752 in the second quarter of 2023 and from 7,707 in the third quarter of 2022. The number of zombie properties has grown quarterly in 19 states and annually in 28.
While most neighborhoods around the U.S. have few or no zombie foreclosures, the biggest increases from the second quarter of 2023 to the third quarter of 2023 in states with at least 50 zombie properties are in Missouri (zombie properties up 51 percent, from 35 to 53), Maryland (up 22 percent, from 188 to 229), Oklahoma (up 15 percent, from 173 to 199), Connecticut (up 13 percent, from 77 to 87) and Pennsylvania (up 11 percent, from 401 to 446).
The largest decreases among states with at least 50 zombie foreclosures are in Texas (zombie properties down 33 percent, from 168 to 112), Michigan (down 12 percent, from 59 to 52), Georgia (down 11 percent, from 95 to 85), Kentucky (down 9 percent, from 58 to 53) and Nevada (down 8 percent, from 108 to 99).
Overall vacancy rates unchanged
The vacancy rate for all residential properties in the U.S. has remained virtually the same for the fifth quarter in a row. It now stands at 1.26 percent (one in 79 properties), almost matching the 1.27 percent rate in the second quarter of 2023 and 1.28 percent in the third quarter of last year (one in 78).
States with the largest vacancy rates for all residential properties are Oklahoma (2.26 percent, or one in 44, during the third quarter of this year), Kansas (2.13 percent, or one in 47), Alabama (2.03 percent, or one in 49), Indiana (2.02 percent, or one in 49) and West Virginia (2 percent, or one in 50).
Those with the smallest overall vacancy rates are New Jersey (0.33 percent, or one in 308, in the third quarter of this year), New Hampshire (0.33 percent, or one in 301), Vermont (0.39 percent, or one in 259), Idaho (0.43 percent, or one in 230) and North Dakota (0.64 percent, or one in 155).
Other high-level findings from the third quarter of 2023: