A total of 46,800 U.S. properties had foreclosure filings in March 2020, a decrease of 3 percent from the month before and a drop of 20 percent year-over-year from March 2019, making this the third consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in U.S. foreclosure activity, according to a report by Attom Data Solutions.

However, Q1 2020 on the whole showed an increase in foreclosure filings by 42 percent from Q4 2019 to a total of 156,253 properties. That figure was down by 3 percent year-over-year from Q1 2019.

Todd Teta

Todd Teta | ATTOM Data Solutions

“As foreclosure activity across the country continued to decline in March … the number of filings remains just one-sixth of what it was following the Great Recession a decade ago,” Todd Teta, chief product officer at Attom Data Solutions, said in a statement.

Recent halts on foreclosures by local governments in the face of the coronavirus pandemic have no doubt played a significant role in the continuing decline of foreclosure rates.

“This latest sign of the strong national housing market, however, comes with a huge caveat because it captures the pivotal month when millions of Americans started losing their jobs because of the economic fallout connected to the Coronavirus pandemic,” Teta added. “Banks are temporarily holding off on foreclosures and we expect this will bring foreclosures even lower for at least the next few quarters. However, with unemployment and other distress factors hitting the economy now, the numbers could rise significantly later this year and into next, depending on how many people can’t keep up with their payments.”

Sixty-one percent of markets with a population greater than 200,000 showed foreclosure activity at levels below pre-recession averages, including Denver (89 percent below pre-recession averages); Detroit (80 percent below); Las Vegas (80 percent below); Dallas-Fort Worth (79 percent below); and Indianapolis (78 percent below).

Out of the 39 percent of markets with foreclosure levels still above pre-recession averages, markets in the mix included Baltimore (114 percent above pre-recession averages); Honolulu (69 percent above); Allentown, Pennsylvania (53 percent above); Buffalo, New York (33 percent above); and Baton Rouge, Louisiana (18 percent above).

Nationwide, foreclosure starts decreased 11 percent from one year ago in Q1 2019. However, 11 states posted year-over-year rises in foreclosure starts, including Alaska (up 16 percent), Georgia (up 12 percent) and California (up 10 percent).

Bank repossessions (REOs) decreased by 28 percent from Q4 2019, and declined by 16 percent year-over-year from Q1 2019. Forty-one states plus the District of Columbia reported year-over-year decreases in REOs, including in Tennessee (decreased by 39 percent), Florida (dow 37 percent), New Jersey (down 33 percent), Pennsylvania (down 32 percent) and Texas (down 29 percent).

New Jersey (one in 406 housing units filed for foreclosure), Delaware (one in 433), Illinois (one in 448), Maryland (one in 583) and Florida (one in 628) were the states with the highest foreclosure rates in Q1 2020.

Metro areas that posted the highest foreclosure rates during this quarter included Trenton, New Jersey (one in every 286 housing units); Atlantic City, New Jersey (one in 293); Rockfield, Illinois (one in 296); Lake Havasu City, Arizona (one in 331); and Peoria, Illinois (one in 351).

Attom Data Solutions

The average foreclosure timeline dropped by 19 percent in Q1 2020 to an average of 673 days, down from 834 days in Q4 2019. That number was also down by about 19 percent year-over-year from an average of 835 days for properties foreclosed in Q1 2019.

States with the shortest average foreclosure times included Arkansas (157 days), Wyoming (172 days), New Hampshire (184 days), Virginia (190 days) and Minnesota (202 days).

Email Lillian Dickerson

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