The number of owner-vacated “zombie” foreclosures at the end of the second quarter stood at 127,021, representing a 10 percent decline in volume when compared with the same quarter last year.

According to recent data from RealtyTrac, zombie foreclosures — a situation where the distressed homeowner vacates the property — account for roughly 1 in 5 properties in foreclosure nationally.

Because the average estimated market value of an owner-vacated foreclosure — nearly $196,000 — is 22 percent below the average estimated market value of an owner-occupied foreclosure, it’s in a foreclosing bank’s best interest to have a home occupied during the process.

“A growing number of states and cities have enacted public policy measures to combat the problem of ‘zombie’ foreclosures, and we are seeing the results of those efforts in the overall decrease nationwide, as well as in several hard-hit markets such as Chicago, Miami and Cleveland,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

During the second quarter, the number of zombies decreased by 28 percent in Chicago and 46 percent in Miami — the largest decrease of any metro. Of the nation’s top 20 cities, 10 saw a decline in zombie volume in comparison to the second quarter of 2014. Dallas, Atlanta and Phoenix represent some of these cities. These markets experienced declines of 27 percent, 33 percent and 14 percent, respectively.


On the flip side, 10 major metros saw a rise in zombie volume — led by San Diego/Carlsbad, a 292 percent increase, and California’s Inland Empire, a 165 percent spike.

RealtyTrac noted as banks push through long-deferred foreclosures, which are more likely to be owner-vacated this year, the firm is seeing an increase in zombie foreclosures within markets that possess overall low foreclosure rates — Los Angeles, Houston and Boston. These three metros experienced spikes of 39 percent, 38 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

Out of the 183 metro areas RealtyTrac covers, 91 reported an increase in zombie volume.

The highest zombie rates among these 183 areas were found in Atlantic City, New Jersey (1 in 130 housing units); Trenton, New Jersey (1 in 166 housing units); Tampa, Florida (1 in 218 housing units); Binghamton, New York (1 in every 260 housing units); and Ocala, Florida (1 in every 262 housing units).

Email Erik Pisor.

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