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Foreclosure Filings Drop to 16-Year Low

Nationwide foreclosure activity plummeted in 2020 to record depths, according to new statistics released by ATTOM Data Solutions [1].

Last year saw foreclosure filings—covering default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions—on 214,323 residential properties in 2020, a 57% decline from 2019 and a 93% tumble from the 2010 peak of nearly 2.9 million properties. The 2020 figures represented the lowest level since ATTOM began tracking these numbers in 2005.

The 2020 foreclosure filings total encompassed only 0.16% of all housing units, compared to 0.36% in 2019 and 2.23% in the 2010 peak year.

However, last year ended with something of a foreclosure filing uptick: ATTOM Data Solutions also reported there were 10,876 properties with foreclosure filings in December, an 8% increase from November—but also an 80% drop from December 2019.

“The government’s moratoria have effectively stopped foreclosure activity on everything but vacant and abandoned properties,” said Rick Sharga, EVP of RealtyTrac, an ATTOM Data Solutions company. “There is a backlog of foreclosures building up loans that were in foreclosure prior to the moratoria; loans that would have defaulted under normal circumstances; and loans whose borrowers are in financial distress due to the pandemic. While it’s still highly unlikely that we’ll see another wave of foreclosures like the one we had during the Great Recession, we really won’t know how big that backlog is until after the government programs expire.”

As 2020 closed, ATTOM Data Solutions determined that lenders repossessed 50,238 properties through foreclosure (REO), a 65% year-over-year decline. Lenders started the foreclosure process on 131,372 properties in 2020, down 61% from 2019.

The states with the highest foreclosure rates in 2020 were Delaware (0.33% of housing units with a foreclosure filing); New Jersey (0.31%); Illinois (0.30%); Maryland (0.26%); and South Carolina (0.24%).