3 years after lockdown, foreclosed homes remain rare but on the rise

Publish Date: July 12, 2023

Written by Daniel Houston

- Originally published at Inman News - Daniel Houston

Foreclosures are still affecting a tiny slice of the nation’s home inventory. Here are the markets where you’re most likely to find one, according to a new report from Attom.

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Banks have continued to beef up their foreclosure activities, but the rate of growth is decelerating as the number of distressed properties remains well below normal levels.

More than 135,000 residential properties were slapped with new foreclosure filings in the first six months of the year, a number that was 15 percent higher than the same time the year before, according to a new report from real estate data provider Attom.

Attom CEO Rob Barber

“Similar to the first half of 2022, foreclosure activity across the United States maintained its upward trajectory, gradually approaching pre-pandemic levels in the first half of 2023,” Attom CEO Rob Barber said in a statement. “Although overall foreclosure activity remains below historical norms, the notable surge in foreclosure starts indicates that we may continue to see a rise in foreclosure activity in the coming years.”

In all, nearly 186,000 homes had foreclosure filings in the first half of 2023, up 13 percent year over year. That’s also nearly three times higher than in the first half of 2021 when the nation was still under a strict series of state and federal rules limiting foreclosures due to the economic hardships of the pandemic.

Chart by Attom

Banks repossessed and tried to sell nearly 23,000 homes in the past six months, 9 percent more than last year and more than twice as many as the year before that. This number of lender-owned properties — that is, repossessed properties that were not sold at a foreclosure auction — was particularly high in Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Still, foreclosures remained well below pre-Great Recession levels throughout most of the country.

From April through June, foreclosure activity was 65 percent lower than the pre-recession average of nearly 279,000, a period which includes all of 2006 and the first part of 2007, according to Attom’s analysis.

In 173 of 223 major U.S. metro markets, foreclosure remained below the pre-recession average.

There were a few notable exceptions. The East Coast markets of Baltimore, Richmond, Virginia Beach and Albany were all above their pre-recession foreclosure levels in the second quarter of the year. So were Honolulu and Montgomery, Alabama.

Of the metro areas with at least 200,000 residents, Cleveland had the highest overall share of residential properties with foreclosure filings in the first six months of the year. Still, nearly 99.7 percent of homes in Cleveland were unaffected by foreclosure.

Chicago, Philadelphia and Jacksonville were also among the large metros with similarly high foreclosure rates.

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