Tri-Cities sees more zombies, especially in Sullivan County


By DON FENLEY

There are more zombies in the Tri-Cities than this time last year and Sullivan County is seeing the biggest increase.

The zombies for this discussion are not the “Walking Dead” type, but properties where the homeowner has walked away but banks haven’t completed the foreclosure process. The latest numbers come from RealtyTrac’s current Zombie Foreclosure Forecast.

Zombies are bad news in the housing market because once a property is abandoned it can quickly fall into disrepair, become a target for vandals and bring down the value of other homes in the neighborhood.

Nationwide the total number of zombie foreclosures was down 6% from a year ago, but the 25% share of total foreclosures represented by zombies was up from 21% a year ago.

Here in the Tri-Cities the current share of total foreclosures is 26.9%, and some counties it’s more than 30%.

Currently Sullivan County has 19 zombies compared to two this time last year. Other counties in the 30% plus class are Unicoi (the total is only two but there were non last year) and Greene, eight current compared to one last year.

According to Daren Blomquist vice president at RealtyTrac, “the states where overall foreclosure activity has been increasing over the past year — counter to the national trend — tend to be states with a longer foreclosure process more susceptible to the zombie problem.” Tennessee fits that example with one exception. It’s a non-judicial state where the foreclosure process is typically more streamlined.

“In states with a bloated foreclosure process, the increase in zombie foreclosures is actually a good sign that banks and courts are finally moving forward with a resolution on these properties that may have been sitting in foreclosure limbo for years,” Blomquist continued. “In many markets there is plenty of demand from buyers and investors to snatch up these distressed properties as soon as they become available to purchase.”

RealtyTrac gathers data for vacant foreclosures by matching foreclosures in the RealtyTrac database with data collected from the United States Postal Service for addresses that the agency has deemed vacant or where the owner has requested a change of address.

Here’s what the drill down on Tri-Cities counties in the report, the Zombie status and year-over-year change looks like. (Although the number of zombies is small in comparison to the other comparisons the year-over-year shows proportionally how much it has increased).

2015 Jan zombies

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