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The quarterly decline in vacant zombie properties has continued in the first quarter of 2021, which experts are attributing, in part, to the ongoing foreclosure moratorium.

Zombie foreclosures—properties that are in the process of foreclosure while sitting empty—are down 12.3% in the first quarter of 2021, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ latest Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report.

According to the report, roughly 1.4 million residential properties (or 1.5% of all homes) in the United States are vacant. The report also showed that just 175,414 properties are in the process of foreclosure in the first quarter of this year—a 12.3% drop from the fourth quarter of 2020 and down 38% from the same period last year. The number of pre-foreclosure homes sitting empty saw a similar 12.3% decrease from Q4 2020.

The portion of pre-foreclosure properties that have been abandoned into zombie status remained at 3.8% in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the prior quarter.

“These days, you can walk through most neighborhoods in the United States and not spot a single zombie foreclosure. That continues a remarkable turnaround from the last recession when many communities were dotted by abandoned properties,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. “The trend does remain on thin ice because foreclosures are temporarily on hold, and the market is still at risk of another wave of zombie properties when the moratorium is lifted, depending on the general state of the broader economy. For the moment, though, zombie properties remain pretty much a non-issue in the vast majority of the country.”

The number of zombie foreclosures dropped in the first quarter of 2021 in 35 states. Zombie-foreclosure rates increased from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021 in 29 states.

The following areas continue to have the highest numbers of zombie properties:

– New York: 2,064
– Florida: 926
– Illinois: 759
– Ohio: 633
– New Jersey: 363
– California: 130

“It’s good to see the number of zombie foreclosures continue to fall,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at RealtyTrac, an ATTOM Data Solutions company. “But states with vacant properties caught in long judicial foreclosure processes should take steps to accelerate the disposition of those properties. This would reduce the health risks of having homes vacant during a pandemic and provide much-needed affordable housing inventory to prospective homebuyers.”

To read the entire report, click here.

Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jgrice@rismedia.com.

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