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“Zombie” Vacant Homes continue decline

Contemporary two story home, light green siding, palm tree in the yardVacant homes in foreclosure decrease in Collier and Lee


The zombies are almost all vanquished in Southwest Florida.

A new report by Attom Data Solutions shows the number of vacant homes in the foreclosure process — known as zombie homes — fell to 13 in Collier County and 62 in Lee County in the third quarter.

In Collier County, the quarter-over quarter drop was 27.8 percent and year over- year decline 18.8 percent.

In Lee County, the declines were 7.5 percent from the previous quarter and 27.1 percent over the year.

Daren Blomquist, senior vice president of the firm based in Irvine, California, said the decline was partly the result of “banks cleaning out the bottom of the barrel when it comes to properties that have been lingering in the foreclosure process for years.”

Continuing demand and short supply of homes at the lowest prices also were factors, he said.

Overall, zombies made up 2.4 percent of the 540 homes actively in the foreclosure process in Collier and 5.9 percent of the 1,058 homes in foreclosure in Lee, the report said.

Nationwide, zombies made up 4.7 percent of properties in foreclosure, representing 18,304 homes. But as zombie homes go through foreclosure and return to lenders’ possession, they’re increasing the number of vacant bank-owned homes.

Across the U.S., 46,604 homes that have returned to banks were vacant, representing 15.8 percent of the total number of bank-owned homes.

In Southwest Florida a smaller percentage of homes were vacant when repossessed by lenders, the result of banks speeding foreclosures on their legacy distressed inventory to meet demand, Blomquist said.

In Collier, 28 homes, or 6.1 percent of the 460 bank-owned properties, were vacant.

In Lee, 107 properties had no occupants when returned to lenders, representing 7.9 percent of the county’s 1,360 bank-owned properties.

“Given the market conditions in Southwest Florida, I would suspect that these vacant bank-owned properties will sell fairly quickly, even if they are in poor condition,” Blomquist said.

With a small percentage of investment homes vacant in the third quarter, renters had to scramble, too.

Only 2,513 homes, or 2.6 percent, of the total number of Collier County’s investment properties were unoccupied.

In Lee, 3.1 percent, or 4,597 investment properties, were vacant.

Nationwide, 4.3 percent of the investment housing stock is vacant, representing slightly over 1 million homes.

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