According to ATTOM's newly released fourth-quarter 2023 Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report, almost 1.3 million (1,294,505) residential properties in the United States are vacant. That figure represents 1.27 percent, or one in 78 homes, across the nation - virtually the same as in the third quarter of this year.
The report analyzes publicly recorded real estate data collected by ATTOM -- including foreclosure status, equity and owner-occupancy status -- matched against monthly updated vacancy data. (See full methodology below).
The report also reveals that 320,765 residential properties in the U.S. are in the process of foreclosure in the fourth quarter of this year, up 1.7 percent from the third quarter of 2023 and up 12.8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2022. A growing number of homeowners have faced possible foreclosure following the nationwide moratorium on lenders pursuing delinquent homeowners was imposed after the Coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020 and was lifted in the middle of 2021.
Among those pre-foreclosure properties, about 8,900 sit vacant as zombie foreclosures (pre-foreclosure properties abandoned by owners) in the fourth quarter of 2023. That figure also is up slightly from the prior quarter, by 1.4 percent, and up 15.3 percent from a year ago. The latest increase marks the seventh straight quarterly rise.
However, the fourth-quarter count of zombie properties represents only a tiny portion of the nation's total housing stock - just one of every 11,412 homes around the U.S.
"The ongoing strength of the U.S. housing market continues to benefit neighborhoods around the country in so many ways, with the near-total lack of zombie foreclosures standing out as one striking example," said Rob Barber, CEO for ATTOM. "Rising equity flowing from rising home values has not only kept foreclosure cases from spiking since the moratorium was lifted. It also keeps giving delinquent homeowners a valuable resource they can use to either stave off eviction or sell their homes and move on. As a result, we continue to see none of the widespread abandonment that followed the housing market crash after the Great Recession of the late 2000s."
The stable number of zombie properties in the fourth quarter has come as the U.S. housing market has rebounded from a temporary setback last year.
The nationwide median home value grew 11 percent during the Spring-Summer buying season this year, hitting a new record of $350,000. Those gains followed an 8 percent decline from mid-2022 into early 2023. The growth in values has helped keep homeowner wealth at historic highs, with 95 percent of mortgaged owners having at least some equity built up and about 50 percent owing less than half the estimated value of their properties.
Zombie foreclosures rise in half of states but remain mostly absent around nation
A total of 8,903 residential properties facing possible foreclosure have been vacated by their owners nationwide in the fourth quarter of 2023, up from 8,782 in the third quarter of 2023 and from 7,722 in the fourth quarter of 2022. The number of zombie properties has decreased or stayed the same quarterly in 24 states and annually in 21.
While most neighborhoods around the U.S. have few or no zombie foreclosures, the biggest increases from the third quarter of 2023 to the fourth quarter of 2023 in states with at least 50 zombie properties are in Kentucky (zombie properties up 15 percent, from 53 to 61), Connecticut (up 15 percent, from 87 to 100), Maryland (up 13 percent, from 229 to 258), Texas (up 13 percent, from 112 to 126) and California (up 12 percent, from 244 to 274).
The largest quarterly decreases among states with at least 50 zombie foreclosures are in New Mexico (zombie properties down 15 percent, from 95 to 81), New Jersey (down 8 percent, from 205 to 188), Maine (down 7 percent, from 56 to 52), Nevada (down 7 percent, from 99 to 92) and Georgia (down 4 percent, from 85 to 82).
New York continues, among the 50 states, to have the highest ratio of zombie homes to all residential properties (one of every 2,115 homes), followed by Ohio (one in 3,690), Illinois (one in 4,338), Iowa (one in 4,380) and Indiana (one in 6,114).
Overall vacancy rates also hold steady
The vacancy rate for all residential properties in the U.S. has remained virtually the same for the sixth quarter in a row. It stands at 1.27 percent (one in 78 properties), which is virtually the same as the 1.26 percent rate in both the third quarter of 2023 and the fourth quarter of last year.
States with the largest vacancy rates for all residential properties are Oklahoma (2.26 percent, or one in 44 homes, during the fourth quarter of this year), Kansas (2.18 percent, or one in 46), Michigan (2.07 percent, or one in 48), Alabama (2.04 percent, or one in 49) and Indiana (2.03 percent, or one in 49).
Those with the smallest overall vacancy rates are New Hampshire (0.33 percent, or one in 302, in the fourth quarter of this year), New Jersey (0.36 percent, or one in 280), Vermont (0.39 percent, or one in 259), Idaho (0.45 percent, or one in 221) and North Dakota (0.63 percent, or one in 158).
Other high-level findings from the fourth quarter of 2023: