About 1.6 million (1,556,592) residential properties in the United States, representing 1.6 percent of all homes, are vacant, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ fourth-quarter 2020 Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report.

The report said 200,065 properties are in the process of foreclosure in the fourth quarter, down 7.3 percent from the third quarter of 2020, while the number sitting empty (7,612) is down 4.4 percent. The portion of pre-foreclosure properties that have been abandoned into zombie status has ticked up slightly, from 3.7 percent in the third quarter of 2020 to 3.8 percent this quarter.

“Zombie foreclosures have been barely an issue around most of the country for over a year, and they’re even less of one now,” ATTOM Chief Product Officer Todd Teta said in a release. “A surprisingly strong housing market and a temporary ban on foreclosures continues to leave most neighborhoods without a single such property.

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.”

According to the report, 7,612 residential properties facing possible foreclosure have been vacated by their owners nationwide in the fourth quarter of 2020. That figure comprises 3.8 percent, or one in 26, of all properties in the foreclosure process. Those numbers are up slightly from 3.7 percent, or one in 27, in the third quarter of 2020, and up from 3 percent, or one in 34 properties, the fourth quarter of 2019.

States with the highest zombie foreclosure rates include Iowa (15.5 percent, or one in six properties in the foreclosure process); Kentucky (12 percent, or one in eight); Missouri (10.2 percent, or one in 10); Georgia (9.6 percent, or one in 10), and Maryland (9.2 percent, or one in nine).

States with the lowest rates include Utah (1.3 percent, or one in 76 properties in the foreclosure process); Colorado (1.6 percent, or one in 62); New Jersey (1.7 percent, or one in 61); Idaho (2.2 percent, or one in 47), and California (2.2 percent, or one in 46).

“It’s worth noting that while foreclosure moratoria have caused the number of zombie properties to drop slightly, the percentage of foreclosure properties in zombie status has increased,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president for RealtyTrac, an ATTOM Data Solutions company. “It’s likely that as the length of time it takes to execute a foreclosure continues to increase, we’ll also continue to see the percentage of vacant and abandoned foreclosure homes increase.”

New York has the highest number of zombie properties (2,131), followed by Florida (1,027), Illinois (934), Ohio (836), and New Jersey (346). California leads in the West, with 234.

“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,” Sharga 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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