US foreclosure rates post new record low in February

by Candyd Mendoza02 Apr 2020

Foreclosure rates hit an all-time low in February, which comes as no surprise due lenders halting foreclosure proceedings to help stabilize the effects of the coronavirus on the housing market.

Stats from ATTOM Data Solutions recorded a total of 48,004 US properties with foreclosure filings –the lowest figure posted since ATTOM began tracking in April 2005.

"Foreclosure activity across the United States hit new lows in February, yet another marker of the nation's long housing boom," said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. "However, as with just about anything connected to the housing market right now, the foreclosure situation is now totally in flux because of the ever-evolving coronavirus pandemic."

The numbers of annual completed foreclosures (REOs) dipped for the second month in a row. Lenders repossessed 10,469 properties in February, down 8% from a year ago but up 1% from the previous month.

Florida topped the list of states that saw an annual decrease in REOs, down 47% in February. New Jersey (-37%), New York (-18%), Texas (-16%), and Maryland (-13%) rounded out the top five.

Annual foreclosure starts also continued to decline for the 13th straight month. Lenders started the foreclosure process on 27,058 properties in February, down 9% from February 2019 but up 3% from January.

Natiowide, 31 states experience month-over-month decreases in foreclosure starts, including Minnesota (-38%); Tennessee(-26%); Virginia (-19%); New York (-15%); and Ohio (-13%).

But Teta warned that the downturn might rebound after the crisis eases up.

"Many lenders have suspended foreclosure proceedings, so the numbers will most likely continue to drop in the coming months," Teta said. "But after that, we may see an uptick in foreclosures as a result of dramatic economic impacts, such as more homeowners losing their jobs and falling behind on mortgage payments."