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Foreclosure Moratoria and the Distressed Auction Market

house, home, housing, residentialDespite widespread foreclosure moratoria, completed foreclosure auctions are percolating, the Q4 Distressed Market Outlook from Auction.com shows.

While remaining below 78% below year-ago levels, there was a 24% uptick of completed foreclosure auctions to a six-month high in September.

That said, the moratoria have played a part in creating a backlog of likely foreclosures that an Auction.com analysis estimates will grow to more than 1.1 million by Q2 2021.

At 92%, Colorado paced the list of states with an above-average share of year-ago foreclosure volume in September. Rounding on the top states on the list were Oklahoma, 86%; Kentucky, 56%, Arkansas, 54%; and Indiana, 49%.

Conversely, among states with a below-average share of year-ago foreclosure volume were New York, Oregon and New Jersey, all at 0%, while Washington and Massachusetts came in at 5%.

“Foreclosure supply is slowly returning to the market as servicers refine their vacant or abandoned procedures and as states gradually open up,” said Ali Haralson, chief business development officer at Auction.com. “These vacant or abandoned properties, which are exempt from the national foreclosure moratoria on government-backed mortgages, benefit neighborhoods when they are returned to occupancy.”

Meantime, the demand for distressed properties—both at foreclosure auction and for online auctions of bank-owned (REO) properties, wasn’t taking a backseat.

“Nearly all properties now being foreclosed are vacant or abandoned, which means those foreclosures represent a distressed, unoccupied home that can now be returned to the housing market and occupied by a buyer or renter," said Jason Allnutt, CEO at Auction.com. "Furthermore, renovated foreclosures often provide an affordable housing option for retail buyers and renters."

Auction's remote bid technology is adding to the changes at foreclosure auctions.

“Buyers are showing up in force at the live foreclosure auctions, both in-person at the auction venues and now also virtually, thanks to the Remote Bid feature on the Auction.com mobile app,” said Steve Price, senior vice president of trustee operations at Auction.com. “Where available, this feature allows buyers to participate in real-time at the auction from just about anywhere.”

The July 2020 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, released by ATTOM Data Solutions, showed there were a total of 8,892 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings—default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions — in July 2020, down 4% from a month ago and 83% from a year ago.

“Even as mortgage delinquency rates climb, foreclosure activity continues to be artificially low due to moratoria put in place by the Federal and State governments,” said Rick Sharga, EVP at RealtyTrac (an offspring of ATTOM). “It’s inevitable that there will be a significant increase in foreclosures once these moratoria have expired, although it’s unlikely that we’ll see default rates reach the levels we saw during the Great Recession.”

About Author: Chuck Green

Chuck Green has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune and others covering various industries, including real estate, business and banking, technology, and sports.
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