Are vacant, foreclosed homes becoming a thing of the past?

Nashville 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Are vacant and foreclosed homes becoming a thing of the past? Maybe.

ATTOM Data Solutions released its Q4 2019 Vacant Properties and Zombie Foreclosure Report Tuesday– showing just over 1.5 million U.S. single-family homes and condos were vacant at the end of 2019, according to their analysis of county tax assessor data.

The report also shows U.S. neighborhoods are seeing fewer decaying properties and “zombie” foreclosures – when homes are abandoned before they’re repossessed by a foreclosing lender.

Sometimes homeowners quickly pack up and move on once they receive a foreclosure notice, but now and again, the bank doesn’t finish the foreclosure process.

Meanwhile, the house sits and the property’s ownership, title, remains in the homeowner’s name, but they’re no longer there.

The report also shows that during the fourth quarter of 2019, about 288,300 homes in the U.S were in the process of foreclosure, with 8,535, or 2.96 percent, sitting empty as “zombie” foreclosures.

You will be much more likely to avoid becoming the victim of a zombie foreclosure if you stay through the entire process and wait for an official notice to vacate before moving out.

Among zip codes with a population of 10,000 or more and least 1,000 vacant properties, the highest rates of zombie foreclosure properties remained concentrated in the Midwest.

As for vacant homes, in the Nashville-Metro area, ATTOM Data Solutions found that there were 8,819 vacant properties out of 631,372 total residential properties, making the vacant property rate 1.4 percent.

Jeff Checko, a realtor with The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage, says that figure is fairly low.

Unlike cities, like Detroit, where there isn’t a lot of economic and population growth that’s conducive to houses being abandon because there are no people to fill them,” Checko said. “With Nashville growing like it is, people are willing to take on projects like this and reclaim them so they have a place to live​.

Checko suggests three things you should think about before purchasing a foreclosed home:

  1. What’s the condition? How will you make it habitable?
  2. Figure out your situation with the bank. Ask what they will accept as a payoff for the property.
  3. If it’s not going to be a good investment, don’t purchase it.

“You really have to be careful and go in with knowledge yourself or surround yourself with people, great real estate broker, contractor, both make sure you have a team to make sure you’re protected in the process,” explained Checko.

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