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U.S. Foreclosure Filings on the Rise as COVID Remains an Economic Threat

U.S. Foreclosure Filings on the Rise as COVID Remains an Economic Threat


According to RealtyTrac's October 2020 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, there were a total of 11,673 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings -- default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions -- in October 2020, up 20 percent from a month ago but down 79 percent from a year ago.

Rick-Sharga-3.jpg

Rick Sharga

"It's a little surprising to see foreclosure activity increasing in spite of the various foreclosure moratoria that are in place," said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of RealtyTrac, an ATTOM Data Solutions company. "It's likely that many of these properties were already in the early stages of default prior to the pandemic, or are vacant and abandoned, which makes them candidates for expedited foreclosure actions."

South Carolina, Nebraska and Alabama post highest state foreclosure rates

Nationwide one in every 11,683 housing units had a foreclosure filing in October 2020. States with the highest foreclosure rates were South Carolina (one in every 6,133 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Nebraska (one in every 6,246 housing units); Alabama (one in every 6,660 housing units); Louisiana (one in every 7,078 housing units); and Florida (one in every 7,208 housing units).

Among the 220 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 200,000, those with the highest foreclosure rates in October 2020 were Peoria, IL (one in every 1,543 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Champaign, IL (one in every 1,674 housing units); Beaumont, TX (one in every 1,880 housing units); Birmingham, AL (one in every 1,993 housing units); and Houma, LA (one in every 2,964 housing units).

Those metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million that posted the worst foreclosure rates in October 2020, including Birmingham, AL, were Cleveland, OH (one in every 4,511 housing units); Jacksonville, FL (one in every 5,119 housing units); New Orleans, LA (one in every 6,397 housing units); and Miami, FL (one in every 6,794 housing units).

Foreclosure starts increase monthly nationwide

A total of 6,042 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process in October 2020, up 21 percent from last month but down 79 percent from a year ago.

While foreclosure starts are down annually in many states across the nation, a few states did see annual increases in foreclosure starts in October 2020, including Idaho (up 109 percent) and Nebraska (up 56 percent). Those states that posted the greatest monthly increases and that had 200 or more foreclosure starts in October 2020, included North Carolina (up 294 percent); Ohio (up 74 percent); Illinois (up 30 percent); New York (up 24 percent); and South Carolina (up 18 percent).

Among metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million, those with the greatest number of foreclosure starts in October 2020 were New York, NY (485 foreclosure starts); Chicago, IL (240 foreclosure starts); Los Angeles, CA (196 foreclosure starts); Miami, FL (151 foreclosure starts); and Houston, TX (143 foreclosure starts).

"It's probably not a surprise that almost all of the metro areas where foreclosure activity increased on a month-over-month basis are also places where unemployment rates are higher than the national average, and in many cases have been hotspots of COVID-19 infections," Sharga noted. "Still, it's important to keep the numbers in context - even with these increases, overall foreclosure actions are still below last year's levels by about 80%."

Bank repossessions see a 28 percent increase from last month

Lenders foreclosed (REO) on a total of 2,577 U.S. properties in October 2020, up 28 percent from last month but down 81 percent from a year ago.

States that posted the greatest number of completed foreclosures (REOs) in October 2020, included Alabama (268 REOs filed); Florida (261 REOs filed); California (194 REOs filed); Texas (186 REOs filed); and Pennsylvania (145 REOs filed).

Among the metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million, those with the greatest number of REOs filed in October 2020, included Birmingham, AL (233 REOs filed); Philadelphia, PA (98 REOs filed); New York, NY (97 REOs filed); Chicago, IL (62 REOs filed); and Miami, FL (52 REOs filed).

 
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