Friday, August 23, 2019

“Zombie” Vacancy Rates Decline in the Midwest

For anyone who closely followed the bursting of the real estate bubble and the ensuing foreclosure crisis after 2007, you likely know that there is a strong link between vacant properties and foreclosures in Illinois and throughout the country. When homeowners abandon properties because they cannot afford to make mortgage payments and those properties end up in foreclosure, other homes in the neighborhood can suffer, too. For example, if homeowners considering selling their house live in a neighborhood with numerous vacant properties, their home might also decline in market value due to the unsightliness of the vacancies. If those same homeowners need to sell their house because they cannot afford mortgage payments or have an underwater mortgage, the existence of those vacancies can be even more problematic.

Yet according to a recent article in Curbed, the overall rate of vacant properties in neighborhoods throughout the U.S. is on a continuous decline, particularly in a number of Midwestern areas. The fact that there are fewer vacant homes could be a good sign in terms of homeowners’ ability to avoid foreclosure.

Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Rates Continue to Get Lower
Many properties that end up vacant—especially the ones that ultimately harm market values of other homes in the same neighborhood—might also be classified as “zombie” foreclosures. As you may recall from the days of the foreclosure crisis, a “zombie” foreclosure is a term to refer to a residential property that has been left vacant (or abandoned) by the homeowners after learning that the house is going into foreclosure. Few of those homeowners return to the property, but when foreclosures get canceled for one reason or another, the properties remain vacant and can enter various stages of disrepair.

According to the article, zombie foreclosures and vacancies have shown a steady decline in recent years, and that drop continues to occur. Even in the cities that still have some of the highest vacant property rates in the country, zombie foreclosures are not nearly as common as the used to be. The article cites data from an ATTOM Data Solutions report. That report indicates that about 1,530,563 single-family homes and condos in the U.S. were vacant as of the end of the third quarter of 2019. To put that figure another way, it represents about 1.6% of all single-family homes and condos. The number of properties in foreclosure was much lower, at 304,000. That number is 22% lower than it was at the same point of the year in 2016.

Even Midwestern Cities are Seeing Improvement
Midwestern cities in the U.S. were some of the hardest hit by zombie foreclosures and vacancies. Yet as the report makes clear, “there, too, the situation is starting to improve.” More homeowners are buying previously vacant properties because there are more people seeking out homes for purchase in general.

This is all good news because, as the report explains, the phenomenon of “hyper-vacancy,” in which many zombie foreclosures or vacancies exist, is “usually concentrated in areas that are losing jobs, investment, and economic opportunity.” If these areas are seeing more homebuyers and the blight associated with vacancies is slowly improving, it could be a sign of more economic stability in general and fewer families grappling with the threat of foreclosure.

Contact an Oak Park Foreclosure Defense Lawyer
If you have questions about the links between current real estate and foreclosure, or if you need help avoiding foreclosure, an experienced Oak Park foreclosure defense attorney at our firm can assist you. Contact the Emerson Law Firm today.

See Related Blog Posts:

Concerning Foreclosure Trends in the Chicago Area

Cook County Foreclosure Lawsuit Against Banks Continues

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