Despite foreclosure filings continuing to plummet, foreclosure starts increased in about a third of all U.S. metros in 2019.

Foreclosure filings hit an all-time low in 2019, according to a new study published Thursday by ATTOM Data Solutions, which began tracking the metric in 2005.

A modest 493,066 foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported in 2019, down 21 percent from 2018 and down 83 percent from a peak high of nearly 2.9 million in 2010, according to ATTOM.

“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,” Todd Teta, chief product officer for ATTOM Data Solutions, said in a statement. “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.”

Foreclosure activity continues to plummet. | Photo credit: ATTOM Data Solutions

The 493,066 properties with foreclosure filings in 2019 were representative of just 0.36 percent of all U.S. housing units. Comparatively, 0.47 percent of all housing units had foreclosure filings in 2018, and in 2010, 2.23 percent of all housing units had foreclosure filings.

Looking solely at December 2019, there were 53,279 properties with foreclosure filings, up 7 percent month-over-month and 2 percent year-over-year.

“Nationally, the number also ticked up a bit in December,” Teta said. “While that’s not a major worry, it’s something that should be watched closely in 2020.”

Lenders repossessed 143,955 properties in 2019, a year-over-year decline of 37, and once again, the lowest level since ATTOM began tracking the data.

New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Florida and Illinois were the states with the most foreclosure filings. In New Jersey, which has held the top spot since 2015, 0.82 percent of housing units had a foreclosure filing.

Email Patrick Kearns

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