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Despite Federal Actions, Q1 Foreclosures Rise

An analysis of Q1 foreclosures by ATTOM Data Solutions has found that there were a total of 33,699 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings—default notices, scheduled auctions, or bank repossessions—during the first quarter of 2021, up 9% from the previous quarter, but down 78% year-over-year.

The Q1 2021 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report also shows a total of 11,880 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in March 2021, up 5% over February 2021, but down 75% from March 2020’s totals, marking the second consecutive month with month-over-month increases in U.S. foreclosure activity.

"The foreclosure moratorium on government-backed loans has virtually stopped foreclosure activity over the past year," said Rick Sharga, EVP of RealtyTrac, an ATTOM Data Solutions company. "But mortgage servicers have been able to begin foreclosure actions on vacant and abandoned properties, which benefits neighborhoods and communities. It's likely that these foreclosures are causing the slight uptick we've seen over the past few months."

Nationwide, one in every 4,078 housing units had a foreclosure filing in the first quarter of 2021. States with the highest foreclosure rates were Delaware, with one in every 1,705 housing units with a foreclosure filing; Illinois, with one in every 2,175 housing units; Florida, with one in every 2,237 housing units; Indiana, with one in every 2,397 housing units; and Ohio, with one in every 2,500 housing units.

Lenders began foreclosure proceedings on 17,652 U.S. properties in Q1 2021, up 3% from Q4 2020, but down 78% year-over-year. States that saw the greatest quarterly increase in foreclosure starts and had 500 or more foreclosure starts in Q1 2021, included California (up 36%); Ohio (up 25%); North Carolina (up 15%); Virginia (up 11%); and South Carolina (up 10%).

Lenders repossessed 7,320 U.S. properties through foreclosure (REO) in Q1, up 14% from the previous quarter, but down 87% from a year ago. The states with the greatest number of REOs in Q1 2021 were Florida (945 REOs); Illinois (610 REOs); California (414 REOs); Texas (370 REOs); and Arizona (330 REOs).

And with emergency federal foreclosure protections eventually set to expire, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently proposed changes to help prevent an impending wave of foreclosures.

"The government's foreclosure moratorium, and the CARES Act mortgage forbearance program have extended foreclosure timelines for owner-occupied homes by a full year," Sharga said. "Hopefully, this extra time will give financially-distressed homeowners the chance to get back on their feet, and work with their lenders to avoid a foreclosure when the government programs expire."

The CFPB forecasts that if current trends continue, there may be nearly 1.7 million loans at least 90 days delinquent come September 2021. Foreclosures have an average cost to borrowers of at least $12,500, with neighboring homes also losing value, and sale prices dropping by 1%-1.6% after nearby foreclosure sales.

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.

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