Foreclosure Rates on Vacant Homes Drops

By Taff Weinstein at

Foreclosure Rates on Vacant Homes Drops

Vacant properties in the United States totaled 1,530,563, according to the results of ATTOM Data Solutions’ Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report. The figure represents 1.6% of all homes.

Meanwhile, more than 304,000 homes faced foreclosure in Q3 2019, and 3.2% of these properties were in the process of "zombie" foreclosures. Owners have abandoned over 9,600 zombie homes nationwide.

"The blight of vacant, decaying properties facing foreclosure has declined dramatically across the United States – another good-news offshoot of the housing boom that's gone on for eight years," said ATTOM Chief Product Officer Todd Teta.

Washington, D.C., had the highest share of zombie foreclosures (12.5%). Maine (8.5%), Kansas (7.6%), and New Mexico (7%) rounded out the list of the states with the greatest number of homes facing foreclosure.

New York still had the highest number of vacant properties at 2,428, followed by Florida (1,634), Illinois (985), Ohio (891), and New Jersey (463).

"A handful of areas still face notable problems with homes abandoned by owners after they get hit with foreclosure claims," Teta said. "But with the economy improving and the housing market still hot, an expanding number of neighborhoods across the country face little or no problem with these so-called zombie properties."

Source: ATTOM Data Solutions

What Happened to Rates Last Week?

Mortgage backed securities (FNMA 3.500 MBS) gained +16 basis points (BPS) from last Friday's close which caused fixed mortgage rates to remain at their best (lowest) levels of 2019.

Overview:  The major economic reports for the week are actually quite positive and therefore negative for rates with much stronger than expected Retail Sales data and an uptick in inflation (CPI).  However, this was more that offset with concern over the trade war between the U.S. and China.  Which continued to make U.S. bonds very desirable as a safe-haven during this uncertain time.  This strong need for safety (preservation of capital) keep demand high for our bonds which in turn, kept our rates low for yet another week.

Retail Sales:  The July data set was a block-buster at more than double the market expectations.  Headline Retail Sales hit 0.7% vs est of 0.3%.  Ex-Autos, Retail Sales were up 1.0% vs est of 0.3%. The Control Group saw a 1.0% MOM increase vs est of 0.3%.  Very strong data.

Inflation Nation: The July Consumer Price Index was a little hotter than expected.  The headline CPI YOY hit 1.8% vs est of 1.7% and when you strip out food and energy, the Core CPI YOY was 2.2% vs est of 2.1%

Taking it to the House: New Housing Starts were lighter than expected (1.191M vs est of 1.257M) but the good news is that Single Family Residences actually increased by 1.9% to an annualized pace of 876K.  Building Permits were higher than expected (1.336M vs est of 1.270M). Again, the bright spot is the SFR sector with a solid rise to 838K on an annualized basis. The August NAHB Home Builders Market Index came in at 66 vs est of 65. A very robust reading.  Weekly Mortgage Applications shot up by a whopping 21.7%. Refinance Applications led the way with an increase of 37.0%. Purchase Applications increased by 2.0%

Consumer Sentiment:  The University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index Survey was very low for their preliminary August reading (92.1).   However, what is interesting is that inflation expectations among consumers moved higher to 2.7% over the next 12 months.

Inflation Nation: The Headline Producer Price Index matched market expectations with a 1.7% pace. But the Core (ex food and energy) was lighter than expectations with a 2.1% vs 2.4% reading. It was still above 2% though.

What to Watch Out For This Week:

The above are the major economic reports that will hit the market this week. They each have the ability to affect the pricing of Mortgage Backed Securities and therefore, interest rates for Government and Conventional mortgages. I will be watching these reports closely for you and let you know if there are any big surprises.

It is virtually impossible for you to keep track of what is going on with the economy and other events that can impact the housing and mortgage markets.  Just leave it to me, I monitor the live trading of Mortgage Backed Securities which are the only thing government and conventional mortgage rates are based upon.


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