Washington Co. a rock star for low investment property vacancies

Pre-foreclosures in Sullivan and Washington counties are at a two-year high. But that’s not the gem in Attom Data Solution’s Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report that’s causing the local real estate buzz.

The fact that Washington County has the state’s lowest vacancy rate for single-family homes and condo investment properties puts a big grin on the faces of landlords and investors. The county also has the lowest vacancy rate for residential properties among the seven Tennessee counties analyzed in the report.  Only counties with at least 50,000 single-family homes and condos were included in the analysis. However, there is a data breakout by zip code.

There are 78 properties with pre-foreclosure status in Sullivan and Washington counties. That’s the highest number since 2018.  But only three of the 78 properties are zombies. That’s what a vacant pre-foreclosure is called. The current total for all of the NE Tenn.’s zip codes is 124. Only the three in Sullivan and Washington are zombies.

And although foreclosures are up – as is the number of properties with seriously underwater mortgages – the total hasn’t raised the overall foreclosure rate, which is less than 1 percent.

“Homes abandoned by owners facing a possible foreclosure remain little more than a blip on the radar across the country, as one of the main scourges of the Great Recession continues to show little or no signs of re-emerging,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with Attom. “Even with the slight increase in these so-called ‘zombie foreclosures,’ so far this year, there are still pockets of distress with elevated numbers of abandoned homes. But in yet another reflection of how the national housing market is still booming, you can drive through many towns and not pass a single such property.”

The report analyzes publicly recorded real estate data collected by Attom — including foreclosure status, equity, and owner-occupancy status — matched against monthly updated vacancy data.

Attom’s report shows a total of almost 3,000 vacant residential properties in Sullivan and Washington counties for a combined vacancy rate of 2.1%. Sullivan’s rate is 2.44% while it’s 1.73% in Washington Co. Washington also had the lowest vacancy rate of investment properties in the state.

The current number of non-owner-occupied investment properties in Sullivan and Washington is 47,916, according to the report. That number increases to 93,463 when the local zip codes are included.  That number includes single-family detached homes, condos, and townhomes. Of that, there were a little over 2,000 local vacancies cited in the report. Washington Co. had only 800 of those vacancies and a vacancy rate of 4.08%. Sevier Co. had the next lowest rate – 4.28%. Blount Co. had the highest rate – 6.25%. Sullivan Co.’s rate was 5.39%. The local zip code with the highest investment property vacancy rate was 37665 in Kingsport – 13.95%.

Nationwide, more than 1.52 million single-family homes, townhomes, and condos are vacant, which represents 1.5% of all homes, according to the report.

The number of properties in the process of foreclosure is falling, but the number of vacant foreclosures is rising, the report adds.

As of late January, the apartment vacancy rate for Sullivan and Washington counties was 3.3%, according to the Tri-Cities Apartment Association. That does not include Kingsport’s Town Loft Apartments.  That’s better than the Nashville and Memphis rates cited in a recent Marcus & Millichap report. It said the Nashville rate was 7.53%. In Memphis, it was 8.5%.  Knoxville had the lowest vacancy rate among metros – 2.7%.

The average rent in January was $841, according to the association.

There are currently 443 apartment units under construction in the area.



Categories: REAL ESTATE