Foreclosure activity drops to 13-year low

TTOM Data Solutions released its Year-End 2018 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows foreclosure filings – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – were down 8 percent from 2017 and down 78 percent from a peak of nearly 2.9 million in 2010.

Those properties with foreclosure filings in 2018 represented 0.47 percent of all U.S. housing units, down from 0.51 percent in 2017 and down from a peak of 2.23 percent in 2010. ATTOM reports that it's the lowest level for foreclosures since 2005.

However, 18 states saw foreclosure starts – first notices sent to owners newly delinquent in their mortgage payments – rise in 2018, including Florida, where starts rose 13 percent even though nationwide foreclosure starts hit a new record low. Minnesota led the list of 18 states with a 29 percent increase, followed by Texas (up 15 percent) and Michigan (up 15 percent). Florida ranked third, followed by Louisiana (up 5 percent) and Delaware (up 2 percent).

"Plummeting foreclosure completions combined with consistently falling foreclosure timelines in 2018 provide evidence that most of the distress from the last housing crisis has now been cleaned up," says Todd Teta, chief product officer. "But there was also some evidence of distress gradually returning to the housing market in 2018, with foreclosure starts increasing from the previous year in more than one-third of all state and local housing markets."

Teta says some of the 2018 distress came from natural disasters, such as a 61 percent increase in Houston foreclosure starts likely a result from flooding in 2017. "But natural disasters do not explain the increase in markets such as Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Milwaukee and Austin – all of which posted double-digit percentage increases in foreclosure starts in 2018," Teta says.

While completed foreclosures (REOs) are declining, California and Florida combined have totaled nearly 1.5 million over the last 10 years. States that lead the nation in REOs also include Michigan, Texas, Georgia and Illinois.

States with the longest average time to foreclose in Q4 2018 were Hawaii (1,429 days); Florida (1,311 days); Indiana (1,214 days); Arizona (1,183 days) and New Jersey (1,162 days).

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