Foreclosure filings fell to a record low in 2019, according to a report Thursday from ATTOM Data Solutions.
The report showed that foreclosure filings – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – were reported on 493,066 U.S. properties last year, down 21% from 2018 and down 83% from a peak of nearly 2.9 million in 2010 to the lowest level since tracking began in 2005.
In November, there were 49,898 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings, ATTOM Data Solutions reported. The company also reported that foreclosure starts were up 13% in October then made a u-turn, dropping 13% in November.
The 493,066 properties with foreclosure filings in 2019 represented 0.36% of all U.S. housing units. That’s lower than 2018’s 0.47%, and 2010’s peak of 2.23%.
“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,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer for ATTOM Data Solutions, in a release. “That said, there is some reason for concern about the potential for a change in the wrong direction, 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.”
In 2019, lenders repossessed 143,955 properties through foreclosures, known as REOs because accountants record them as “real estate owned.” That’s down 37% from 2018 and down 86% from 2010’s peak of 1,050,500.
Lenders repossessed 13,898 U.S. properties through REOs in December 2019, down 1% from last month, but up 34% from December 2018.
The average time it took to foreclose on a property in the U.S. in 2019’s fourth quarter was 834 days, a 1% decline from the previous quarter, but an increase of 3% from a year earlier.
Even with foreclosure starts at a record low nationally, they increased in 14 states, the report said.
There were 335,985 properties in the U.S. that started the foreclosure process in 2019, down 9% from 2018 and down 84% from the peak of 2,139,005 in 2009.
States with the highest foreclosure rates last year were New Jersey, with 0.82% of housing units receiving a foreclosure filing. It has held the top spot since 2015, according to the report.
Delaware was next, at 0.73%, followed by Maryland at 0.66%, Florida at 0.63% and Illinois at 0.63%.