Foreclosure activity on the rise, yet still far below historic norms

by Liz Hughes

It’s been barely three months since the federal moratorium on foreclosures expired, but it’s starting to prove costly, as nationally, foreclosures are on the rise, having increased 67% from last year. According to a new report, however, they’re still far below the norm. 

ATTOM Data Solution’s third quarter U.S. Foreclosure Market Report found foreclosures to be up nationally from a year ago, with 45,517 properties in foreclosure filings, which included default notices, scheduled auction and repossessions, representing a 34% increase from the second quarter and a 68% rise from a year before. In September there were 19,609 filings, a 24% increase from August and a 102% increase from September 2020. 

Nationally, the average time to foreclose is up 11% from a year ago.

Despite increased foreclosure activity last quarter, foreclosures are still far below historic numbers, according to Rick Sharga, executive vice president at RealtyTrac, an ATTOM company.

“September foreclosure actions were almost 70% lower than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in September of 2019, and third quarter foreclosure activity was 60% lower than the same quarter that year,” he said in a press release. “Even with similar increases in foreclosures over the next few months, we’ll end the year significantly below what we’d see in a normal housing market.”

Foreclosure starts also rose, and for the first time since 2014, saw double-digit percentage growth. The report found lenders began foreclosure proceedings on 25,209 properties in the third quarter of this year, a 32% increase from the second quarter and up 67% from a year ago.

 Third-quarter foreclosure filings in Georgia topped 1,252, ranking 16th in the U.S. Additionally, the report found one in every 3,421 housing units in Atlanta had a filing in the third quarter. 

While the national trend saw quarterly increases, several metro areas with populations of more than one million people saw a decline in foreclosure activity, including declines of 32% in Charlotte, N.C.; 26% in Portland, Ore.; 17% in Rochester, N.Y.; 13% in San Jose, Calif.; and 6% in Hartford, Conn.

Among the 220 metros analyzed, Peoria, Ill., had one in every 754, the second-highest after Atlantic City, N.J. Illinois also had one of the largest number of completed foreclosures in the third quarter, with 965. 

“So far the government and the mortgage industry have worked together to do an extraordinary job of preventing millions of unnecessary foreclosures using the foreclosure moratorium and mortgage forbearance program,” Sharga said in the release. “But there are hundreds of thousands of borrowers scheduled to exit forbearance in the next two months, and it’s possible that we might see a higher percentage of those borrowers default on their loans.”

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