Oregon leads nation in percentage of vacant-house foreclosures, report says

Oct 30 2014

It’s an obscure data point, but Oregon had the nation’s highest percentage of vacant homes going through the foreclosure process, according to RealtyTrac, the real estate data firm.

About 18 percent of all properties in the foreclosure process nationally had been vacated, the firm says. Within that subset, Oregon had relatively more of these so-called “zombie” foreclosures than any other state. This may herald a new wave of foreclosure proceedings in Oregon.

John Helmich, chief executive of Eugene’s Gorilla Capital, which tracks foreclosure filings in most of Oregon, said this month “we see zombies in nearly every neighborhood and all have been empty for months or years. We expect more zombies to pass through foreclosure and back into the market over the next few months.”

Vacant houses are most likely to end up as auctions, short sales or bank-owned sales, RealtyTrac said.

The real estate data firm said 1,091 — or 36 percent of Oregon’s properties in foreclosure in the third quarter — had been vacated.

In terms of volume of such foreclosures, Oregon is far behind states such as Florida, which had almost 36,000 zombie foreclosures in the quarter, and New York, which had more than 12,000.

Oregon’s percentage of vacant houses may represent the state’s lengthy, on-and-off efforts to rework its foreclosure procedures. Federal judges and Oregon legislators have changed the rules about how lenders can proceed against delinquent borrowers.

Oregon launched its foreclosure mediation program in 2012. The Legislature expanded it last year. Those initiatives tended to push more foreclosures through the judicial process, which typically moves more slowly than non-judicial alternatives. But the changes also caused lenders to stop or not initiate foreclosure proceedings until the rules were clear.

Overall, zombie foreclosures declined in the third quarter in Oregon and around the country, RealtyTrac reported.

-Mike Francis

Click here to read the story on The Oregonian’s website.