The Tampa Bay metro area continues to have one of the nation's largest number of "zombie foreclosures" — vacant homes that banks are repossessing.
According to RealtyTrac, 627 bay area homes in some stage of foreclosure sat empty during the first three months of this year. Among metro areas with at least 100,000 residential properties, Tampa Bay ranked fourth in zombies after New York (3,526), Philadelphia (1,744) and Miami (651).
Compared to the same period last year, however, the number of bay area zombies dropped almost 15 percent. Nationwide, zombies are down 30 percent.
"Lenders have been taking advantage of the strong seller's market to dispose of lingering foreclosure inventory over the past year," Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac's senior vice president, said in a news release.
"As these zombie foreclosures hit the market for sale," he continued, "they are providing a modicum of relief for the pressure cooker of escalating prices and deteriorating affordability that have defined the U.S. housing market in recent years."