About 167,680 U.S. homes in the foreclosure process were sitting empty as of June, having been vacated by the owners, according to RealtyTrac's Foreclosure Market Report.
That is about 20% of all the homes currently in the foreclosure process, according to the report.
About another 544,274 foreclosed homes nationwide are now bank-owned but have not been sold to a third party, meaning those homes are sitting empty as well.
Meanwhile, about 650,000 homes in the foreclosure process have not been vacated by the homeowner yet and will likely end up as short sales, auction sales or bank-owned sales in the near future, RealtyTrac reports.
As of June, a total of about 1.4 million homes nationwide were in the foreclosure process, according to the report.
Of the 167,680 vacant foreclosure properties nationwide, 55,503 are in Florida, accounting for 33% of the national total. Illinois posted the second highest total (17,672), followed by California (9,802), Ohio (9,723) and New York (9,173).
States with owner-vacated foreclosures above the national average of 20% included Indiana (32%), Oregon (28%), Nevada (28%), Washington (27%) and Georgia (27%).
Chicago had the most owner-vacated foreclosures of any metro area, with 14,717, representing 17% of all properties in foreclosure, followed by Miami (13,901), New York (10,074), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (9,998) and Orlando (5,569), according to the report.
Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, says getting these vacant homes on the market is critical to the housing recovery. However, new foreclosure laws enacted since the housing metldown in 2008 have had the effect of delaying the process.
‘Somewhat ironically, efforts to slow the slide of the housing market in previous years are now hampering a smooth recovery by holding back inventory of homes that almost certainly must sell in the future but are not yet listed for sale,’ Blomquist said in a statement, adding that it takes an average of 477 days to get a home through the foreclosure process and back on the market.
Blomquist said even if all the foreclosed homes flooded the market simultaneously, it would not have a significant impact on prices.
He pointed out that states where the foreclosure process has taken the longest, including Florida, Illinois and New Jersey, recently enacted laws to help speed up the process on vacant properties.
‘These laws should help provide some extra supply and possibly help reduce the threat of another housing price bubble forming in these markets,’ Blomquist said.