Foreclosure Activity Sees February Uptick, But Well Off from Year Ago

ATTOM Data Solutions, Irvine, Calif., released its February U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, showing 11,281 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings— up 16 percent from a month ago but down 77 percent from a year ago.

“Extensions to the federal government’s foreclosure moratorium and CARES Act mortgage forbearance program continue to keep foreclosure activity historically low,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of RealtyTrac, an ATTOM Data Solutions company. “These government actions, and the efforts of lenders and mortgage servicing companies, have helped millions of homeowners avoid foreclosure during a year-long global pandemic and a recession that resulted in 22 million lost jobs.”

The report said nationwide one in every 12,182 housing units had a foreclosure filing in February. States with the highest foreclosure rates were Utah (one in every 3,883); Delaware (one in every 5,219); Florida (one in every 6,232); Illinois (one in every 6,336); and Louisiana (one in every 7,923).

Among the 220 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 200,000, those with the highest foreclosure rates in February were Provo, Utah (one in every 787 housing units); Shreveport, La. (one in every 1,951); Lake Havasu, Ariz. (one in every 2,247); Cleveland (one in every 3,943); and Florence, S.C. (one in every 3,980).

For metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million, with the worst foreclosure rates in February 2021 including Cleveland; Jacksonville, Fla. (one in every 5,707 housing units); Riverside, Calif. (one in every 6,478); Birmingham, Ala. (one in every 6,532); and St. Louis (one in every 6,651).

The report said lenders started the foreclosure process on 5,999 U.S. properties in February, up 15 percent from last month but down 78 percent from a year ago.

“The government’s moratorium bans foreclosures on government-backed loans for homeowners, and borrowers in the forbearance program are also protected from foreclosure actions,” Sharga said. “But loans on commercial properties, investment properties, and properties that are vacant and abandoned do not always have the same protections. This could be why we’re seeing a slight increase in foreclosure starts despite the government programs.”

Lenders repossessed 1,545 U.S. properties through completed foreclosures (REOs) in February, up 8 percent from last month but still down 85 percent from last year.