Foreclosure activity during 2019 fell 21% from the previous year, but a few indicators show a change in direction could be possible, according to a new report from Attom Data Solutions.
The 493,066 properties with a foreclosure filling, or 0.36% all U.S. properties, was the lowest since Attom started tracking this information in 2005. In 2018, 624,753 or 0.47% of properties had a foreclosure filing, while at the peak in 2010, there were 2.9 million or 2.23% of properties.
“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, said. “That said, there is some reason for concern … given that residential foreclosure starts increased in about a third of the nation’s metro housing markets in 2019.”
“Nationally, the number also ticked up a bit in December. While that’s not a major worry, it’s something that should be watched closely in 2020,” he continued.
Lenders repossessed 143,955 properties through foreclosure during 2019. This dropped 37% from 2018 and fell 86% from the peak of 1.05 million in 2010. In December, lenders took back 13,898 properties through completed foreclosures, down 1% from November, but up 34% from December 2018.
Additionally, in December, 53,279 properties had foreclosure filings, up 7% from the prior month and up 2% over December 2018.
During the year, 335,985 started the foreclosure process, down 9% from 2018 and the fewest since 2006, the first year this data became available. But 14 states posted year-over-year increases, led by Rhode Island, up 54%.
States with the highest foreclosure rates in 2019 were New Jersey (0.82%), Delaware (0.73%), Maryland (0.66%), Florida (0.63%) and Illinois (0.63%). New Jersey has held the top spot since 2015.