Special Report

Cities with the Most Abandoned Homes

One in five homes in the foreclosure process stands vacant after being abandoned by owners. While the housing market is on the mend, some cities still struggle as they wait for thousands of homes to complete the process.

Nearly one in three homes in foreclosure are abandoned in Indianapolis. In five separate metro areas in Florida, more than one in four homeowners have given up. Based on data provided by RealtyTrac for the 101 largest metro areas, these are the cities where residents are abandoning their homes.

Click here to see the 10 cities

Many of the cities with the most homes in foreclosure that are abandoned were among the hardest hit during the housing crisis. While there are exceptions, “these are areas where a big home price bubble popped,” RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist told 24/7 Wall St. Indeed, home prices fell by more than the national average during the housing crisis in six of the 10 cities. In Lakeland and Las Vegas, prices fell by more than 40% in that time, compared to a national decline of just 20.8%.

The amount of time it takes for the foreclosure process to complete in some of these cities may, as Blomquist explained, be a major factor in how many residents decide to give up on their properties. Several of these cities are in states with long average foreclosure times. In Florida, which has two cities on this list, the average foreclosure took 893 days to complete, the third longest time in the country.

While some of these cities have shorter-than-average foreclosure processing time, recent legislation may have encouraged homeowners to give up. Atlanta is located in Georgia, which has the seventh shortest average foreclosure time of 199 days. “But that’s up 26% from a year ago,” explained Blomquist. These changing rules may be leading homeowners to give up on their homes, he added.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 metropolitan areas with the highest vacancy rate among homes in foreclosure, based on data provided by RealtyTrac for the 101 most populous metropolitan areas. RealtyTrac also provided on a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) level median home price for the total number of housing units in the area, population, institutional purchases information and foreclosures for these areas, all of which are for most recent available period. They also provided average time to foreclose on a state level, as of the first quarter of 2013. We also reviewed long-term home price changes through the fourth quarter of 2012 from the Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

These are the cities with the most abandoned homes.

10. Lakeland, Fla.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 27.7%
> Total vacated homes: 2,010
> Median home price: $90,000 (13th lowest)

Nearly 28% of homes in foreclosure in the Lakeland area are vacant. Among the possible reasons why homeowners gave up on their properties is the 41.7% housing price drop from the end of 2007 through the end of 2012, one of the worst declines in the nation.The foreclosure process in Florida takes nearly 900 days on average, among the most in the nation. This may also be an explanation for why so many homeowners in foreclosure have moved out.

Also Read: States with the Fastest Growing Economies

9. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 28.1%
> Total vacated homes: 3,071
> Median home price: $145,600 (48th lowest)

Home prices in Atlanta fell by 26% from the end of 2007 to the end of last year. This figure might have been far worse if not for the 10% home value increase in home value between the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2012. But the improvement in prices last year — as well as the 42% year-over-year decline in foreclosures during the first quarter — came too late for many home owners. According to RealtyTrac, of the 10,931 homes in foreclosure in the area, roughly 28% have been vacated.

8. Boise City-Nampa, Idaho
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 28.2%
> Total vacated homes: 361
> Median home price: $94,001 (15th lowest)

The median home price in Boise was just $94,001 in April, and foreclosure activity fell by nearly 37% from the year before during the first quarter of 2013. The homes in the area are fairly inexpensive, yet many are still in foreclosure or have even been abandoned. Home prices in Boise are down by 31.1% from the end of 2007 to the end of 2012, despite a rebound during 2012.

7. Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 28.7%
> Total vacated homes: 1,000
> Median home price: $75,000 (7th lowest)

Several positive signs suggest that the housing market in the Detroit area has recovered considerably. Home prices fell nearly 36% between 2007 and the end of 2012, a period that covers much of the U.S. housing crisis and recession. But from the end of 2009 to the end of 2012, prices rose at a faster clip than any other major metro area. Still, the Detroit area has suffered from massive population declines and the city proper is on the brink of bankruptcy as many residents and homeowners have left. Few metro areas have lower home prices than Detroit, where the median home price was just $75,000 in April.

6. Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 28.8%
> Total vacated homes: 3,089
> Median home price: $146,357 (49th lowest)

Home prices in the Las Vegas area fell between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2012 by 47.7%, more than in any other metro area. But even with a 17.6% decline in foreclosure activity in the first quarter of this year — better than about half of the nation’s large metro areas — Las Vegas remains a hub for foreclosures. Also in the first quarter of 2013, nearly 8,400 properties had foreclosure filings against them, while at last count there were roughly 10,700 total homes in foreclosure. The relatively long foreclosure process of 447 days on average may also lead to homeowners ditching their properties.

5. Wichita, Kan.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 30.4%
> Total vacated homes: 90
> Median home price: $140,000 (43rd lowest)

Wichita stands out among the metro areas on this list. Based of the most recently available data, 30.4% of foreclosed homes in Wichita were abandoned. According to RealtyTrac’s Blomquist, Wichita is an outlier. Home prices in the area did not decline considerably during the recession, falling just 0.4% in the five years ending with the fourth quarter of 2012. The area also had less than 300 total homes in foreclosure at last count, fewer than all but five of the nation’s largest metro areas.

Also Read: Ten States Where People Hate Going to Work

4. Birmingham-Hoover, Ala.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 30.6%
> Total vacated homes: 375
> Median home price: $155,000 (44th highest)

The Birmingham area was not hit as hard during much of the recession as the rest of the United States. Home prices fell by just 8.8% between late 2007 and late 2012, well below the 20.8% decline nationwide in that time. In the more recent years, Birmingham’s housing market reversed its trend. Between late 2009 and late 2012, the area’s home prices dropped 5.5%, while nationwide home prices fell by just 0.6%. Many homeowners likely made the choice to vacate quickly once the foreclosure process had begun. During the first quarter of 2013, it took just 186 days, on average, to foreclose a home in Alabama, less than the average time required in all but four other states.

3. St. Louis, Mo.-Ill.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 31.0%
> Total vacated homes: 1,581
> Median home price: $135,000 (38th lowest)

As of the most recent count, the St. Louis metro area had more than 5,000 homes in foreclosure, with more than 1,500 of these sitting vacant. During the recession, home prices in St. Louis did not slide as much as they did in many other areas where foreclosures and vacated properties are abundant. Home prices declined by 11.4%, versus 20.8% nationwide, between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the end of last year. Still, home prices in St. Louis did not have as far to decline compared to other large cities. According to RealtyTrac, the median home price in the area was just $135,000 in April.

2. Jacksonville, Fla.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 31.3%
> Total vacated homes: 5,475
> Median home price: $142,099 (46th lowest)

Jacksonville area home prices dropped by 32.4% between the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2012, one of the larger drops in the nation during that time. But even as home prices began to rise in 2012, many residents still found themselves unable to afford or sell their homes. While the number of foreclosure filings in the majority of large metro areas fell from the year before during the first quarter of 2013, in Jacksonville it jumped 17.3%. According to the most recently available data, there were nearly 17,500 homes in foreclosure in the area, of which nearly 5,500 were empty. Possibly contributing to the rising number of vacant homes is that the average foreclosure takes nearly 900 days in Florida, giving residents ample time to leave their homes.

Also Read: The Most Dangerous Cities in America

1. Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 31.8%
> Total vacated homes: 2,488
> Median home price: $150,000 (48th highest)

Nearly one-third of foreclosed properties in the Indianapolis metro area were vacant. Among the likely contributors to this is that in the first quarter of 2013, it took 607 days, on average, to foreclose a property in Indiana. There are more than 7,800 homes in foreclosure in Indianapolis, with nearly 2,500 of them vacant. Foreclosure filings in the first quarter of 2013 were down by nearly 25% from the year before, although there were still 3,858 foreclosure filings in the quarter.

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