As the foreclosure crisis recedes, some unwanted consequences continue to haunt neighborhoods around the country.
“Zombie” foreclosures — those properties that are currently in the foreclosure process but vacant — fell again in the third quarter, according to Attom Data Solutions. Zombies made up 4.7% of all foreclosures, down 9% from a year ago.
Among the top ten states for zombies, there have been some big declines: zombies are down 28% in Florida, 26% in California, and 14% in Illinois compared to a year ago. But they’re up 6% in New York and 3% in Massachusetts.
Still, as the housing market stays hot, lenders seem to be moving more quickly to take possession of properties where homeowners are having trouble. The number of vacant bank-owned properties jumped 67% in the third quarter compared to a year ago, to 46,604, Attom said.
The states with the biggest number of properties in foreclosure are also the states with the most zombies. They are mostly states that require foreclosures to go through a court process, including New York, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, and Indiana.
Judicial foreclosures can be a blessing, because they provide protections to homeowners, and a curse, because they take so long to complete. The lengthy and complicated process increases the likelihood that a foreclosure will become a zombie — but the hot housing market increases incentives for struggling homeowners to fight to hold on to their properties.