Foreclosure activity drops to lowest level since 2005

Time to foreclose jumps 18% from last year

Foreclosure activity sank in the third quarter of 2019, dropping to the lowest level in nearly 15 years, according to the latest report from ATTOM Data Solutions.

Foreclosure activity in the third quarter fell 19% from a year ago to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2005, a 13-year low, ATTOM’s Q3 2019 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report showed.

There were a total of 143,105 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in the third quarter, which includes default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions.

This represents a decrease of 6% from the previous quarter and a decrease of 19% from a year ago, the report showed. The total foreclosure activity in the third quarter was 49% below the pre-recession average of 278,912 properties with foreclosure filings per quarter between the first quarter of 2006 and the third quarter of 2007 – the 12th consecutive quarter where U.S. foreclosure activity has registered below the pre-recession average.

“Foreclosure activity continues to decline across the country, which is a good sign that the housing market and the broader economy remain strong – and that the lending excesses that helped bring down the economy during the Great Recession remain a memory,” said Todd Teta, ATTOM Data Solutions chief product officer.

“This is not to say that everything in the latest foreclosure picture is rosy,” Teta said. “Some states have seen their foreclosure rates increase this year, which could cause some concern. But overall, the foreclosure numbers reflect a market in which buyers can afford their homes and lenders remain careful in loaning to home buyers who have little chance of repaying.”

Overall, foreclosure starts decreased 8% in the U.S. from the second quarter to the third, and decreased 15% from the third quarter 2018, the report showed.

There were some states that countered the trend, including 14 states that posted an annual increase in foreclosure starts in the third quarter of 2019. This includes Montana with a 33% increase, Georgia up 32%, Washington up 16%, Louisiana up 15% and Michigan up 12%.

Lenders repossessed 34,432 properties through foreclosures in the third quarter, up 6% from the previous quarter but down 33% from last year.

The time to foreclose also increased in the third quarter. Properties foreclosed in the third quarter had been in the foreclosure process for an average of 841 days, up from 716 days in the previous quarter and up from 713 days in the third quarter of 2018. It is the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2017.

ATTOM’s report mirrors another report this week from CoreLogic, which showed that foreclosure rates (which CoreLogic views as the share of mortgages in foreclosure) are now at lows not seen in more than 20 years.

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