Atlanta hit hard with zombie foreclosures

by Timothy Inklebarger

The number of so-called zombie properties — those that are in foreclosure and abandoned — dropped 4.4% in the fourth quarter, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ Q4 2020 Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report.

That’s a total of 7,612 properties, notes the report, which is a snapshot of the current fiscal quarter.

A whopping 1.55 million (1.6% of all homes) are currently vacant, and just over 200,000 homes are going through the foreclosure process, according to ATTOM.

The report added that the numbers are driven in part by the ban imposed by the CARES Act that prevents foreclosures on federally-backed home loans.

“Zombie foreclosures have been barely an issue around most of the country for over a year, and they’re even less of one now. A surprisingly strong housing market and a temporary ban on foreclosures continues to leave most neighborhoods without a single such property,” Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions, said in the press release. “All that could change in a flash when foreclosures are allowed to resume or if the coronavirus takes a toll on the market. But for now, things are steady as they go, with the overall numbers down and the rates of zombie properties pretty much unchanged.”

Georgia is among the most hard-hit states, according to the report, which showed that zombie foreclosures are largely clustered in the Midwest and South. Georgia had a rate of 9.56% for properties in foreclosure and vacant. Atlanta was noted as having a zombie foreclosure rate of 11.5%.

“Some of the states with the highest rate of zombie foreclosure properties are also states that have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rick Sharga, executive vice president for RealtyTrac, an ATTOM Data Solutions company, said. “When the government bans on foreclosure activity expire, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the number of defaults in those states increase more rapidly than in other parts of the country, and the number of zombie foreclosure properties rise more dramatically in those states as well.”

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