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Foreclosure Activity Could Remain Low

Foreclosure activity was down at the start of the year and may continue at low levels for the next few months, according to the latest Foreclosure Market Report from ATTOM Data Solutions, released Thursday. Foreclosure starts, foreclosure timelines, and bank repossessions all declined in the first quarter of the year, according to the report.

Foreclosure activity was down 3% over the year in Q1 with 156,253 properties with foreclosure filings during the quarter.

Foreclosure starts were down 11% over the year in Q1, and average foreclosure timelines were down 19% over the same time period.

In total foreclosure filings were one-sixth of their level following the Great Recession, pointed out Todd Teta, Chief Product Officer at ATTOM Solutions.

However, as most economists are noting, now is a time of uncertainty. Teta pointed out that the good news from the Q1 report “comes with a huge caveat because it captures the pivotal month when millions of Americans started losing their jobs because of the economic fallout connected to the Coronavirus pandemic.”

With banks staving of foreclosures and offering forbearance for now, Teta says foreclosures could remain low over the next few quarters.

The first quarter marked the 19th consecutive quarter with a year-over-year decline in foreclosure starts. In total 81,251 properties received foreclosure notices during the first three months of the year.

While most states followed the national trend with a decline in foreclosure starts, 11 states posted yearly increases in foreclosure starts in Q1. Those states included Alaska with a 16% increase, Georgia with a 12% increase, and California with a 10% increase.

The length of time properties spent in the foreclosure process also declined on an annual basis in Q1, falling 19% to an average of 673 days.

States with the shortest foreclosure timelines in Q1 were Arkansas (157 days), Wyoming (172 days), New Hampshire (184 days), Virginia (190 days), and Minnesota (202 days).

On the other hand, in a handful of states, foreclosure still take a few years to complete. Foreclosures are taking longest to complete in Hawaii (1,673 days), Indiana (1,361 days), Louisiana (1,243 days), New York (1,226 days), and Florida (1,022 days).

Banks repossessed a little fewer than 30,000 properties during Q1, which is down 16% from a year ago and 28% from the previous quarter. It is the 16th consecutive quarter during which bank repossessions declined on an annual basis.

Most states followed the trend. Repossessions were down in 41 states and the District of Columbia with notable declines in Tennessee (39%), Florida (37%), New Jersey (33%), Pennsylvania (32%), and Texas (29%).

One in every 873 homes had a foreclosure filing in Q1. The highest foreclosure rate was reported in New Jersey, where one in 406 homes had a foreclosure filing. Delaware (one in 433), Illinois (one in 448); Maryland (one in 583), and Florida (one in 628) followed as the states with the highest foreclosure filings in Q1.)

Trenton, New Jersey, had the highest foreclosure rate among the 220 metropolitan statistical areas ATTOM observed for its report. One in every 286 homes had a foreclosure filing in the metro area in Q1.

The second-highest foreclosure rate among metros was also located in New Jersey. In Atlantic City, the foreclosure rate was one in 293.

In 134 of the 220 metros observed, foreclosure activity in Q1 was below pre-recession levels. In Denver, Detroit, and Las Vegas, foreclosure activity was down at least 80% from pre-recession levels.

On the other hand, in Baltimore, foreclosure activity in Q1 was 114% above pre-recession levels, and in Honolulu it was 69% higher.

For the month of March, foreclosure filings were down 3% on a monthly basis and 20% on an annual basis with a total of 46,800 filings.

About Author: Krista F. Brock

Krista Franks Brock is a professional writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing sectors since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia.

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