ATTOM, along with its subsidiary RealtyTrac, has released its latest Foreclosure Market Report for February which has found that there was a total of 25,833 properties with foreclosure filings against them, up 11% from January (which saw 23,204 filings) and up 129% from a year ago. Foreclosure activity has now surpassed numbers seen before the pandemic took hold of the nation two years ago.
According to Rick Sharga, the EVP of RealtyTrac, while there was a lull in foreclosures during the holiday season last year, he expects these numbers to continue to rise over the next few months.
"February foreclosure activity looks a lot like what we can expect to see for at least the next six months—double digit month-over-month growth, and triple digit year-over-year increases," said Sharga. "This isn't an indication of economic turmoil, or of weakness in the housing market; it's simply the gradual return to normal levels of foreclosure activity after two years of artificially low numbers due to government and industry efforts to protect financially-impacted homeowners from defaulting."
Lenders started the foreclosure process on 16,545 U.S. properties in February, up 40% from last month and 176% from a year ago.
As a whole, banks repossessed 2,634 properties through the REO foreclosure process in February. This is down 45% from January and up 70% over the same period last year. This marks the eighth consecutive month with an annual increase in completed foreclosures.
The report found that the states that had at least 100 or more REOs and saw the greatest monthly decreases in completed foreclosures in February included: Michigan (down 81%); Texas (down 58%); California (down 52%); Florida (down 43%); and New Jersey (down 27%).
"The reduced number of foreclosure completions suggests that much of the activity we saw in January was a result of mortgage servicers catching up on processing loans that had been in foreclosure or very seriously delinquent prior to the pandemic and the moratorium," Sharga noted. "We can expect more month-to-month volatility as servicers and the court systems work through some of these backlogs."
Nationally, one in every 5,320 housing units had a foreclosure filing against it in February, down from the one in 5,922 seen in January. States that saw the highest foreclosure rates were New Jersey (one in every 2,510 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Illinois (one in 2,521); Ohio (one 2,801); South Carolina (one in 3,001); and Nevada (one in 3,112).