Foreclosure rates rise to highest level in pandemic era during January

During January, foreclosure activity nationwide hit its highest level since the pandemic began, according to Attom Data Solutions.

There were a total of 23,404 properties with foreclosure filings last month, up 29% from December and 139% year over year. One in every 5,922 housing units nationwide had a foreclosure filing.

Foreclosure rates were highest in New Jersey (where one in every 2,336 housing units had a filing), Illinois (one in every 2,740), Nevada (one in every 3,119) and Michigan (one in every 3,127).

“The increased level of foreclosure activity in January wasn’t a surprise,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of RealtyTrac, an ATTOM company. “Foreclosures typically slow down during the holidays in November and December and pick back up after the first of the year.

Sharga added that this year’s increases were likely “a little more dramatic than usual” because CFPB-mandated foreclosure restrictions on mortgage servicers expired after December.

Lenders began the foreclosure process on 11,854 properties across the nation in January, up 29% from last month and 126% from last year. As for completions, lenders repossessed 4,784 properties across the country via completed foreclosures in January, up 57% monthly and a whopping 235% from last year.

The yearly jump made January the seventh straight month with an annual increase in foreclosure completions. Notably, among states that had at least 100 completed foreclosures, Michigan saw the largest increase from December to January, with foreclosures up 622%. The Detroit metro area by itself saw 1,013 real estate-owned (REO) properties during the month.

“It’s very important to keep these numbers in context,” said Sharga. “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.

“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.”


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