The number of homes with foreclosure filings rose 29 percent in January as lenders took advantage of expiring federal restrictions, according to new data from Attom Data Solutions

Foreclosures picked up the pace in January after lenders emerged from a holiday slowdown and the federal government ended more restrictions on mortgage servicers.

More than 23,000 properties had foreclosure filings in January, a 29 percent increase from the previous month and well over double the number from the same time last year, according to the latest report from Attom Data Solutions.

These foreclosure filings included default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions.

The increase to begin the year didn’t come as a surprise to RealtyTrac Executive Vice President Rick Sharga.

“Foreclosures typically slow down during the holidays in November and December and pick back up after the first of the year,” said Sharga, whose company is owned by Attom. “This year, the increases were probably a little more dramatic than usual since foreclosure restrictions placed on mortgage servicers by the CFPB expired at the end of December.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau kept these rules in place from September through the end of December in an effort to prevent certain “avoidable foreclosures” after the COVID-19 moratorium ended earlier last year.

These rules kept mortgage services from initiating new foreclosures or completing a repossession on certain types of “federally-related” mortgages for which the home was the owner’s primary residence.

But while these protections bought extra time for some distressed borrowers, their expiration has since opened the door for a new wave of filings and repossessions.

The number of actual foreclosure repossessions, while far below a normal level, was on a steep upward trajectory. 

Repossessions rose 57 percent from December to January, and amounted to 4,784 completed foreclosures. That’s more than 3.3 times as many as the same time last year, when state and federal governments had banned many types of eviction and foreclosure.

The month-to-month increase in repossessions was most pronounced in Texas, Georgia and Michigan. All three of these states saw at least double the number of completed foreclosures in January than they did the previous month, with Michigan recording repossession numbers nearly seven times as high.

Tennessee and Alabama each saw a monthly rise in repossessions of roughly 50 percent.

Lenders began the foreclosure process on 11,854 properties in January. 

Taken in total, the number of properties with foreclosure filings amounted to 1 in 5,922 housing units in January. But some states were more affected than others.

That share of homes with a foreclosure filing was more than double the national share in New Jersey and Illinois. Nevada, Michigan and Ohio followed close behind, with the share of housing units going through the foreclosure process nearly twice the U.S. level.

And distressed homeowners in some metro areas were hit even harder.

Roughly 1 in every 1,547 housing units in Detroit had a foreclosure filing — nearly four times the national share. Similar numbers were recorded in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Following close behind were the metro areas of Cleveland; Columbia, South Carolina; and Trenton, New Jersey.

While these numbers are elevated from their levels during the pandemic, when a host of protections for borrowers were in place, they remain historically quite low, Sharga said in the report. Foreclosure completions remain less than half of where they were in January 2020, before the pandemic was declared and these protections were put in place, he said.

“We’re likely to continue seeing large year-over-year percentage increases for the rest of this year, but it’s also likely that foreclosure activity will remain below historically normal levels until the end of 2022,” Sharga said in the report.

Email Daniel Houston

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription