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Foreclosures continue despite moratorium

U.S. foreclosures continue during the first quarter of 2021, as new data shows that nearly 33,700 U.S. properties were subject to foreclosure filings—default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions – up 9% from the previous quarter but down 78% from a year ago.

The report also shows a total of 11,880 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in March 2021, up 5% from the previous month but down 75% from March 2020 – the second consecutive month with month-over-month increases in U.S. foreclosure activity, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ Q1 2021 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report.

Main takeaways: March 2021 foreclosure activity

  • Nationwide in March 2021, one in every 11,568 properties had a foreclosure filing.
  • States with the highest foreclosure rates in March 2021 were Delaware (one in every 5,037 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Illinois (one in every 6,119 housing units); Indiana (one in every 6,275 housing units); Ohio (one in every 6,569 housing units); and Florida (one in every 6,763 housing units).
  • 6,418 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process in March 2021, up 7% from the previous month but down 77% from March 2020.
  • Lenders completed the foreclosure process on 1,576 U.S. properties in March 2021, up 2% from the previous month but down 83% from March 2020.

The foreclosure moratorium on government-backed loans mostly halted foreclosures during the last year. ATTOM data shows that mortgage servicers have begun foreclosing actions on vacant and abandoned properties, and indicates that it’s likely that the fact that those foreclosures continue is causing the slight recent increase in foreclosure activity.

Highest foreclosure rates in Delaware, Illinois and Florida

Nationwide one in every 4,078 housing units had a foreclosure filing in Q1 2021. States with the highest foreclosure rates were Delaware (one in every 1,705 housing units with a foreclosure filing), Illinois (one in every 2,175 housing units), Florida (one in every 2,237 housing units), Indiana (one in every 2,397 housing units) and Ohio (one in every 2,500 housing units).

Among 220 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 200,000, those with the highest foreclosure rates in Q1 2021 were Lake Havasu City, Arizona (one in every 518 housing units); Provo, Utah (one in 1,280); McAllen, Texas (one in 1,297); Shreveport, Louisiana (one in 1,353) and Atlantic City, New Jersey (one in 1,441).

Other major metros with a population of at least one million and foreclosure rates in the top 50 highest nationwide included Cleveland, Ohio (6th); Birmingham, Alabama (9th); Jacksonville (12th) and Miami (34th), Florida; and Riverside, California (39th).

Foreclosure starts up 3% from last quarter

Lender starts on foreclosures continue, as well. Data shows that lenders started the foreclosure process on 17,652 U.S. properties in Q1 2021, up 3% from the previous quarter but down 78% from a year ago.

Those states that saw the greatest quarterly increase in foreclosure starts and had 500 or more foreclosure starts in Q1 2021 included California (+36%), Ohio (+25%), North Carolina (+15%), Virginia (+11%) and South Carolina (+10%).

Bank repossessions increase 14% from last quarter

Lenders repossessed 7,320 U.S. properties through foreclosure in Q1 2021. This means real estate-owned (REO) foreclosures are up 14% from the previous quarter but down 87% from a year ago.

Those states that had 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).

Average foreclosure timeline rises 8% in Q1 2021

Properties foreclosures continue at a slightly slower pace, as homes in the first quarter of 2021 had been in the foreclosure process an average of 930 days, up 8% from an average 857 days for properties foreclosed in the fourth quarter of 2020 and up 38% from an average of 673 days for properties foreclosed in the first quarter of 2020.

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