U.S. foreclosures are the highest since pandemic’s start

by Liz Hughes

January foreclosure filings were the highest since the start of the pandemic, according to a new report. 

ATTOM found 23,204 U.S. properties had foreclosure filings last month rising 29% from December and up 139% from a year ago.

Rick Sharga, executive vice president of RealtyTrac said January’s increased level of foreclosure activity wasn’t a surprise as it tends to slow down in November and December before picking up after the start of the new year. 

“This year, the increases were probably a little more dramatic than usual since foreclosure restrictions placed on mortgage servicers by the CFPB expired at the end of December,” he said in a press release. 

In January lenders repossessed 4,784 properties through the completed foreclosure process, an increase of 57% from December and up 235% from last year. January was the seventh consecutive month of increases. 

Six states had at least 100 or more foreclosures with the greatest monthly increase. They included Michigan which was up 622%, Georgia up 163%, Texas with a 98% increase, Tennessee up 50% and Alabama with a 44% increase. 

Additionally, five major metros with populations of more than 200,000 had the greatest number of increases. They included Detroit with 1,013, Chicago with 210, New York City at 129, Miami with 113 and Philadelphia with 107. 

Nationally, one in every 5,922 homes had a foreclosure filing in January. The highest foreclosure rates in January were in New Jersey (one in every 2,336 housing units), Illinois (one in every 2,740), Nevada (one in every 3,119), Michigan (one in every 3,127) and Ohio which had one in every 3,251.

In areas with populations of at least 200,000, the highest foreclosure rates were in Detroit (one in every 1,547), Atlantic City (one in every 1,564), Cleveland, Ohio, (one in every 1,659), Columbia, South Carolina, (one in every 1,921) and Trenton, New Jersey, (one in every 2,299).

Despite the large increases, Sharga said it’s important to keep these numbers in context. 

“Foreclosure completions are still far below normal levels — less than half as many as in January of 2020 before the pandemic was declared, and about 60% lower than the number of foreclosure completions in 2019,” he said. “We’re likely to continue seeing large year-over-year percentage increases for the rest of this year, but it’s also likely that foreclosure activity will remain below historically normal levels until the end of 2022.”

In January foreclosure starts rose in 33 states including the District of Columbia. Lenders began the foreclosure process on 11,854 properties nationally last month, an increase of 29% from December and up 126% from a year prior. 

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