The Zombie 'Foreclosures' Are Back!

Beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse

Photo: Getty Images

A lot has changed over the past decade in Florida’s housing market. A decade ago, many homeowners who’d been crushed by the Great Recession’s housing crisis thought Florida’s housing market would never recover to prices previously seen during the early 2000’s housing boom. We crossed those record levels two years ago and average home prices in Florida have never been higher.

Today there are more job openings than Floridians who are unemployed with the state sporting an unemployment rate that’s 5.1% and among the lowest in the nation. I’ve mentioned these parallels for very intentional reasons. In the context of the stability of Florida’s housing market, they’re all interconnected. And this is to say the last time Florida had a zombie housing problem, the lay of the land was considerably different than it is today. That being said, the zombies are back again.

According to Attom Data Solutions foreclosure filings are up 60% year over year after the expiration of the federal moratorium on foreclosures for federally backed mortgages. So now we’re getting a reality check on how many people haven’t been paying their mortgages. A big increase in foreclosure activity was expected. What perhaps wasn’t was the extent of vacant, or zombie properties. Florida currently has the third-highest rate of zombies behind New York which far and away leads the country and Ohio. These properties tend to be problems for neighbors as much as lenders as they’re often not maintained and can attract unwanted attention including squatters. 

The better news, if there’s a zombie near you, is that lenders are finally able to foreclose and resell these properties which they hadn’t been allowed to do until now. With a strong housing market in Florida, the better news is the turnarounds should be as quick as possible and the zombies should once again be laid to rest. 

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