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Charlotte area sees fewer zombie foreclosures

The number of zombie foreclosures in the Charlotte metro area continues to fall.

According to an analysis by RealtyTrac, 91 homes — or 3.3 percent of the 2,754 foreclosed residences in the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia area — are vacant, a 9 percent drop from three months ago.

With zombie foreclosures, a homeowner will move out after the foreclosure has started, but for some reason the process does not continue. The sale of the property is not held or the title of the property is not transferred to a new owner – often the bank – leaving the title in the homeowner’s name.

As a consequence, the homeowner is still responsible for upkeep of the property and related expenses. This can be a burden on local communities, as taxes and homeowner association fees often go unpaid and properties become run-down.

Nationally, there were 19,187 zombie foreclosures in early May when RealtyTrac compared its property data with statistics from the U.S. Postal Service on homes that had been flagged as unoccupied.

That was a 3.1 percent drop from early February, and constituted 4.7 percent of the 407,531 residential properties in foreclosure.

RealtyTrac said the results are not surprising given that lenders have been cashing in on a strong seller’s market over the last year by disposing of lingering foreclosures.

“As these zombie foreclosures hit the market for sale they are providing a modicum of relief for the pressure cooker of escalating prices and deteriorating affordability that has defined the U.S. housing market in recent years,” said RealtyTrac Senior Vice President Daren Blomquist.

In North Carolina, zombie foreclosures fell 0.6 percent over the last three months to 310 properties, or 4.1 percent of the 7,646 residences in foreclosure.

States with the most zombie foreclosures in May were New Jersey, 4,003; New York, 3,352; Florida, 2,467; Illinois, 1,074; and Ohio, 1,064.

States with the highest percentage of vacant homes that were in foreclosure were Oregon, at 11.8 percent; Indiana, 9.5 percent; Kentucky, 8 percent; Maryland, 7.2 percent; and Washington, 6.6 percent.

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