ATTOM: 2019 U.S. Foreclosure Activity at 15-Year Low

ATTOM Data Solutions, Irvine, Calif., released its Year-End 2019 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which showed foreclosure filings fell by 21 percent from 2018 and by 83 percent from a year ago.

The report said foreclosure filings—including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions—were reported on 493,066 U.S. properties in 2019, representing 0.36 percent of all U.S. housing units, down from 0.47 percent in 2018 and down from a peak of 2.23 percent in 2010.

For December, ATTOM reportd 53,279 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings, up by 7 percent from the previous month and up by 2 percent from a year ago.

“The continued decline in distressed properties is one of many signs pointing to a much-improved housing market compared to the bad old days of the Great Recession,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer for ATTOM Data Solutions. “That said, there is some reason for concern about the potential for a change in the wrong direction, given that residential foreclosure starts increased in about a third of the nation’s metro housing markets in 2019. Nationally, the number also ticked up a bit in December. While that’s not a major worry, it’s something that should be watched closely in 2020.”

Other report findings:

–Lenders repossessed 143,955 properties through foreclosure (REO) in 2019, down 37 percent from 2018 and down 86 percent from a peak of 1.05 million in 2010 to the lowest level as far back as data is available (2006).

–California and Florida combined totaled nearly 1.5 million over the past 10 years. Other states leading in REOs include Michigan (333,312), Texas (323,806), Illinois (312,057) and Georgia (304,964).

–Metropolitan statistical areas with a population greater than 200,000 that saw a year-over-year increase in REOs included Honolulu (up 34 percent); Myrtle Beach, S.C. (up 28 percent); Florence, S.C, (up 18 percent); Buffalo, N.Y. (up 16 percent); and San Luis Obispo, Calif. (up 9 percent).

“The home-foreclosure rates continued shrinking dramatically across the United in 2019 to a level not seen in 10 years, as the strong economy leaves more people in a position to make their mortgage payments,” said Ohan Antebian, general manager for ATTOM’s consumer facing business, RealtyTrac. “As wages rise, interest rates drop, the stock market keeps hitting new highs and the broader economy remains healthy, the factors that lead to foreclosure simply aren’t there. While home prices are rising, homeowners can afford them. The drop-off has been so steep that for every 10 completed foreclosures following the housing market crash a decade ago, there now is just one.”

–Lenders repossessed 13,898 U.S. properties through completed foreclosures in December, down 1 percent from last month, but up 34 percent from a year ago.

–Foreclosure starts were at new record low nationwide, increasing in just 14 states.

–Lenders started the foreclosure process on 335,985 U.S. properties in 2019, down 9 percent from 2018 and down 84 percent from a peak of 2.139 million in 2009 to a new low going back as far as foreclosure start data is available (2006).

–States with the highest foreclosure rates in 2019 were New Jersey (0.82 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing); Delaware (0.73 percent); Maryland (0.66 percent); Florida (0.63 percent); and Illinois (0.63 percent). New Jersey has held the top spot since 2015.

–Among 220 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 200,000, those with the highest foreclosure rates in 2019 were Atlantic City, N.J. (1.33 percent); Trenton, N.J. (0.91 percent); Jacksonville, Fla. (0.85 percent); Rockford, Ill. (0.82 percent); and Lakeland, Fla. (0.81 percent).

–U.S. properties foreclosed in the fourth quarter had been in the foreclosure process an average of 834 days, a 1 percent decline from the previous quarter, but an increase of 3 percent from a year ago.

–States with the longest average time to foreclose in Q4 were Hawaii (1,712 days); Indiana (1,629 days); Arizona (1,434 days); Nevada (1,339 days); and Georgia (1,257 days).