America’s Zombie Foreclosures

The 2023 Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report for the third quarter from real estate research firm ATTOM reveals that 1,277,612 residential properties in America are vacant. That is about one in 80 residences. In addition, 315,425 homes were in the process of foreclosure during the same period. Of these, just shy of 9,000 had been abandoned by their owners. These foreclosures are called “zombie foreclosures.” (These are America’s ghost towns.)

For now, zombie foreclosures are a small part of U.S. housing problems. “Zombie foreclosures again are ticking up a tiny bit this quarter, tracking along with a small rise in overall foreclosure activity around the country. That’s to be expected, as a handful of homeowners who can’t catch up on overdue mortgage payments just walk away from their properties,” said Rob Barber, CEO for ATTOM.

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Among cities with populations exceeding 500,000, those grappling with the highest zombie foreclosure rates are facing financial challenges. These cities include Cedar Rapids, IA, where 12.5% of properties are vacant due to foreclosure; Peoria, IL, at 10.8%; Indianapolis, IN, at 8.9%; Fort Wayne, IN, at 8.8%; and Youngstown, OH, at 8.3%.

All but Cedar Rapids fit the “poor city” pattern. This is particularly true of Youngstown and Peoria. With a population of just under 60,000, Youngstown has a poverty rate of 35%. With a population of 110,000, Peoria’s poverty rate is 20%. (Here is a look at the cities Americans are abandoning.) 

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