“Zombie & Vampire” Foreclosed Homes are Keeping Bank Inventory High

As if rising mortgage rates aren’t scary enough, analysts have identified a lurking threat to housing: “vampire” properties.

These “vampire” properties are bank-owned foreclosed homes in which prior owners continue to live, as defined by RealtyTrac, an online foreclosure marketplace.

Former owners live in 47% of U.S. bank-owned properties, according to Realtor Magazine. These properties are “sucking the life out of the housing market,” said Daren Blomquist, an editor for Realtor Magazine.

“The concern with these homes is that they are inevitable inventory that had been delayed from hitting the market,” Blomquist said. ”We don’t anticipate these properties will derail the housing recovery when they hit, but they will certainly take some of the steam out of the recovery.”

There are particularly high rates of “vampire” properties in Virginia, where they make up 72% of bank-owned homes and Nebraska, where they make up 68%. Many states with high shares of vampire homes have relatively short foreclosure processes and a low rate of homes with negative equity.

“Homeowners may have less time to prepare to vacate the home because of the shorter foreclosure process, but also may be more motivated to fight the foreclosure because they are more likely to have positive equity in the home,” Blomquist said.

Vampire properties should not be confused with their creepy cousins, zombie foreclosures. Zombie foreclosures are properties that have been vacated by the homeowner but are “languishing” in the foreclosure process. About one-in-five homes in foreclosure across the country have been vacated by the homeowner.

Luckily, the percentage of bank owned properties in King County is much lower. As recent as September, bank owned homes and foreclosed homes in King County totaled 19%, a very reasonable number for the recent housing trends. This means that vampire and zombie homes are less common in Washington and particularly Western Washington, which means your investment is more secure.


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