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Report: Vacancy Rates Falling, Zombie Foreclosures Decreasing

Stock / Capital Public Radio

Stock / Capital Public Radio

New second-quarter real estate data confirm what many people already know: it's getting a lot harder to find a place to live in California.

The numbers show 0.9 percent of all properties in the Sacramento area are vacant. Statewide, it's 0.8 percent.

"The nationwide average is 1.6 percent. So California is at half the national average," says Daren Blomquist with RealtyTrac, the research firm that released the data.

He says San Jose has the country's lowest vacancy rate of 0.2 percent, followed by San Francisco and Vallejo at 0.4 percent each.

"That is such a low, razor thin percentage of vacant properties, it's putting upward pressure on home prices and that makes it a difficult environment for home buyers and also for renters," says Blomquist.

He attributes the shrinking vacancies to the drop in new housing. Blomquist says developers have been cautious about building new homes during the economic recovery.

The data also show the number of "zombie foreclosures," or empty homes, is down. Zombies are what happens when the bank has started the foreclosure process but not repossessed the property and the owner has left.

Blomquist says 1.5 percent of all the California properties in foreclosure between April and June were zombies.

"Now it is a little bit higher in Sacramento. There are still 2.6 percent of all properties in foreclosure are these zombie foreclosures. But that's actually down 49 percent year over year," says Blomquist.

He admits that may be hard to believe for people who live in neighborhoods where homes have been vacant for a long time.

"There are certain zip codes where it's much higher and it doesn't mean it's not impacting those neighborhoods, for sure," says Blomquist. "But at a higher level overall in Sacramento, we're seeing the number of zombie foreclosures down dramatically, down 49 percent."

Blomquist says a surge in bank repossessions last year helped to clear out many of the vacant foreclosures. Nationwide, 4.7 percent of all residential properties in foreclosure during the second-quarter were zombies, down 30 percent from a year ago.





Steve Milne

Morning Edition Anchor & Reporter

Steve is the voice of Capital Public Radio News as anchor of Morning Edition and Insight. He covers stories on a wide range of topics including: business, education, real estate, agriculture and music. Steve also produced stories for CapRadio.org.   Read Full Bio