‘Zombie’ Foreclosures in Florida Decrease Despite Still Ranking in Top Five for Vacancies

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A “zombie” home is the scarier phrase to describe vacant property, which are more than something out of a horror film. Vacant housing in Florida has been a serious issue for years, and the state consistently ranks in the top five metros that have the most vacant properties.

According to the SunSentinel, Florida’s “zombie” foreclosure rates are on the decline.

Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Broward counties all currently have 651 zombie vacant homes. That seems like a lot — and it still is — but that number is down 67% just from one year ago. Florida’s overall vacant housing number is 2,467, which is down 62% over the last year.

“In South Florida, at least,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, “fewer properties are entering the foreclosure pipeline and at the same time we’re seeing an increase in bank repossessions. In both of those cases, that kills off the zombies.”

In 2013, one out of every 96 homes across the country reported a foreclosure. In South Florida, however, it’s not so much the foreclosures that are the issue but the vacancy after the foreclosure. These zombie homes are basically in foreclosure limbo. The original owners no longer live there and the new lenders or renters don’t control any of the property.

These zombie homes are rarely maintained and that can anger neighbors and lower property values.

Judy Trudel, a real estate agent in Florida, doesn’t want vacant homes to flood the hosing market, but she still thinks there are plenty of buyers who can look past foreclosures.

“I can tell you that everybody I speak to who’s a tenant desperately wants to buy,” Trudel said.

Naples Daily News reports that the state still has a long way to go, but they are definitely taking steps in the right direction.

“The Southwest Florida market has been crushing the zombie foreclosure problem over the past year,” Blomquist said.