ATTOM: Foreclosure Starts Jumped in Q1 But Remain Below Pre-Crisis Levels

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Foreclosure starts were up 7% in the first quarter compared with the fourth quarter but were down 3% compared with the first quarter of 2018, according to the latest foreclosure report from ATTOM Data Solutions.

Lenders started the foreclosure process on 91,397 U.S. properties during the first quarter. It was the 15th consecutive quarter with a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure starts.

Counter to the national trend, 15 states posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure starts, including Florida (up 65%); Georgia (up 30%); Texas (up 27%); Louisiana (up 20%); Washington (up 12%); and Maryland (up 11%).

Bank repossessions were down in 48 states and Washington D.C., in the first quarter. Lenders repossessed 35,787 homes through foreclosure (REO), down 21% compared with the fourth quarter and down 45% from a year earlier.

It was the 14th consecutive quarter with a year-over-year decrease in U.S. REOs.

States that posted the largest year-over-year decreases in REOs in the first quarter included Arizona (down 77%); California (down 41%); Florida (down 33%); New Jersey (down 59%); and Texas (down 43%).

When looking at all foreclosure activity – including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – a total of 161,875 U.S. properties were in some stage of foreclosure during the first quarter. That’s down 23% from the previous quarter and down 15% from a year earlier to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2008.

Of those 161,875 properties, 58,550 saw foreclosure filings in March alone. That’s up 7% compared with February but down 21% from March 2018.

It was the ninth consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in U.S. foreclosure activity.

ATTOM notes that foreclosure activity was below pre-recession levels in 60% of U.S. markets in the first quarter.

“While some markets saw a slight uptick in foreclosure filings, that is above pre-recession levels, the majority of the major markets are well below pre-recession levels,” says Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions, in the report. “While we did see a slight increase in U.S. foreclosure starts from last quarter, bank repossessions reached an all-time low in the first quarter, showing continuing signs of a strong housing market.”

The average timeline to foreclose increased to 835 days, up 3% from 811 days in the fourth quarter and up 5% from an average of 791 days in the first quarter of 2018.

States with the longest average foreclosure timelines included Indiana (1,806 days), Hawaii (1,565 days), Arizona (1,385 days), New Jersey (1,212 days), and Florida (1,196 days).

States with the shortest average time to foreclose were West Virginia (159 days), Virginia (206 days), Minnesota (251 days), Alaska (262 days), and Wyoming (269 days).

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