Foreclosure filings picked up in October up despite moratoriums

Largest increases were in NYC and places hit hard by coronavirus

National Insights /
Nov.November 10, 2020 04:30 PM
(iStock)

(iStock)

Despite federal and state moratoriums, foreclosure activity in the United States ballooned last month.

Nearly 12,000 properties had some kind of foreclosure filing in October 2020, up 20 percent from last month but down 79 percent from October 2019, according to a monthly report from Attom Data.

That largely continued a trend of growing foreclosures that began the month before, when many states ended relief measures that had protected homeowners hurt by the pandemic.

“It’s a little surprising to see foreclosure activity increasing in spite of the various foreclosure moratoria that are in place,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of Attom subsidiary RealtyTrac, in a prepared statement. “It’s likely that many of these properties were already in the early stages of default prior to the pandemic, or are vacant and abandoned, which makes them candidates for expedited foreclosure actions.”

Among states, October foreclosure filings were the highest in South Carolina, where one in every 6,133 housing units had one, according to the report. For metropolitan areas with at least 1 million residents, Birmingham, Alabama, led with one for every 1,933 housing units, up 51 percent from last month.

Foreclosure starts (lis pendens) increased nationwide in October. More than 6,000 properties started the process last month, 21 percent more than in September but 79 percent less than a year ago, according to the report.

For metro areas with more than 1 million residents, foreclosure starts were highest in New York City. There, 485 lis pendens were filed in October 2020, up 12 percent from the 433 lis pendens filed last month but down 71 percent from the 1,679 filed a year earlier.

Sharga said foreclosure starts have tended to increase most in coronavirus hotspots with higher unemployment rates than the national average. New York City is getting close to a second wave of coronavirus infections, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference today.

The city has clocked more than 1,000 new cases in each of the past five days. Foreclosures have also ramped up, especially in minority neighborhoods, according to an analysis from the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Development.

Repossessions by banks have increased nationwide as well. Lenders foreclosed on 2,577 properties in October, up 28 percent from the prior month but down 81 percent from a year ago. In Birmingham, banks repossessed 233 properties, the most of any U.S. metro area. Repossessions were also high in Philadelphia (98 properties), New York (97), Chicago (62) and Miami (52).


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