Attom Data Solutions’ latest U.S. Foreclosure Market Report revealed a total of 34,501 properties with foreclosure filings (default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions) in August.
That’s up 14% month over month and 118% year over year. More notably, lenders began the foreclosure process on 23,952 properties nationwide in August, up 12% from July and up 187% from August 2021, climbing to a level that is essentially on par with pre-pandemic foreclosure numbers.
“Two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and after massive government intervention and mortgage industry efforts to prevent defaults, foreclosure starts have almost returned to 2019 levels,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence at Attom Data. “August foreclosure starts were at 86% of the number of foreclosure starts in August 2019, but it’s important to remember that even then, foreclosure activity was relatively low compared to historical averages.”
Among states where foreclosure proceedings began on at least 100 properties, starts grew the most between July and August in Oklahoma (up 80%), Tennessee (up 74%), Virginia (up 64%), Arkansas (up 53%) and Washington (up 50%). Illinois, where one in every 1,926 housing units had a foreclosure filing, had the highest August foreclosure rate among all states, followed by Delaware (one in every 2,387), South Carolina (one in 2,417), New Jersey (one in 2,441) and Florida (one in 2,950).
On a localized level, Cook County, Illinois (Chicago area) had the most August foreclosure starts with 798, followed by Los Angeles County, California, with 740; Harris County, Texas (Houston area), with 465; Suffolk County, New York (eastern Long Island), with 297; and Riverside County, California, with 280.
Meanwhile, 3,938 properties were repossessed through completed foreclosures in August, up 28% from July and up 59% from August 2021. But even though foreclosures have returned to pre-pandemic levels, it’s likely that repossessions won’t get back there for a while, Sharga said.
“Repossessions are likely to continue running below pre-pandemic levels for several reasons: most importantly that over 90% of borrowers in foreclosure have positive equity in their homes and would benefit from selling these properties at a profit rather than risk losing everything to a foreclosure auction or lender repossession,” he said.