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How the Moratorium’s End is Affecting Foreclosure Activity

Housing professionals have long been anticipating the response to the July 31 expiration of the federal moratorium on foreclosures. With August numbers coming in, analysts say there has indeed been a rise in foreclosure activity, but they do not expect a large influx. Borrowers across the nation collectively have record levels of home equity, and the sellers' market is so hot, thus property owners in peril are more likely to place their houses on the market than accept foreclosure.

RealtyTrac, a subsidiary of ATTOM that specializes in foreclosure and distressed sales data, just released the August 2021 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows there were a total of 15,838 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings— default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions—that's one in every 8,677 housing units, up 27% from a month ago and up 60% from a year ago.

So, nothing unanticipated is in the report, say the experts at RealtyTrac.

“As expected, foreclosure activity increased as the government’s foreclosure moratorium expired, but this doesn’t mean we should expect to see a flood of distressed properties coming to market,” said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac EVP. “We’ll continue to see foreclosure activity increase over the next three months as loans that were in default prior to the moratorium re-enter the foreclosure pipeline, and states begin to catch up on months of foreclosure filings that simply haven’t been processed during the pandemic. But it’s likely that foreclosures will remain below normal levels at least through the end of the year.”

Regionally, Illinois, Nevada, and New Jersey had the highest foreclosure rates.

Starts: Lenders initiated the foreclosure process on 8,348 U.S. properties in August, up 27% from last month and up 49% from a year ago. Sharga says it is important to keep these statistics in perspective by comparing them to pre-moratorium levels.

“While foreclosure starts increased significantly compared to last month and last year, it’s very important to keep these numbers in context,” Sharga noted. “Both last year’s and last month’s foreclosure starts were artificially low due to the government’s moratorium. But in August of 2019, the last year we had ‘normal’ foreclosure activity, there were almost 28,000 foreclosure starts—over three times more than this year.”

States that had the greatest number of foreclosure starts in August were California,  Texas, Florida, Illinois, and New York.

Completions: Lenders nationwide repossessed 2,474 properties through completed foreclosures (REOs) in August, up 2% from last month and up 22% from last year.

New York, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, and Texas saw the largest rise in REO properties.

ATTOM's foreclosure data is available at ATTOM.com.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. Contact Christina at [email protected].

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