September foreclosure actions were almost 70% lower than they were pre-pandemic. Total foreclosure activity is also still 60% lower than it was a year ago. “Despite the increased level of foreclosure activity in September, we’re still far below historically normal numbers,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at RealtyTrac, an ATTOM company. “Whether the increase is a prelude to a more serious problem, or just a return to normal levels of foreclosure is one of the bigger debates going on inside the industry right now,” said Sharga.
States with the largest number of new foreclosures were: Government and private-sector relief programs allowed borrowers with financial difficulties to delay their monthly payments for up to 18 months. The missed payments could then be tacked on to the end of the loan period or repaid when the home was sold or the mortgage refinanced.
California: 3,434Texas: 2,827Florida: 2,546New York: 1,363Illinois: 1,362 While the increases in foreclosures are dramatic, they are coming off extreme lows that were created by the forbearance programs. New foreclosures, also known as starts, usually number around 40,000 per month. They fell to as low as 3,000 to 4,000 in the first year of the pandemic, when forbearance programs were in full force.
The foreclosure numbers should stay relatively low because of aggressive modifications by lenders and also because of high levels of home equity, due to the recent housing boom and consequently high home prices. Prices were up over 18% year over year in August, according to CoreLogic. “I think the ‘forbearance cliff’ will be minimal,” said David Stevens, former CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association and former FHA commissioner in the Obama administration. The majority of those coming out of the plans are once again current on their payments. Some of those who aren’t current on their payments are working with lenders on loan modifications. Those who do not contact their lenders or who still cannot afford any payments are either selling their homes or going into foreclosure.
The number of active forbearance plans fell by 177,000, led by an 84,000-plan drop among FHA/VA loans. As of Oct. 5, nearly 1.4 million borrowers remained in pandemic-related forbearance plans, representing 2.6% of all active mortgages. Large numbers of borrowers are now exiting forbearance programs. The biggest weekly decline so far came last week. The number of borrowers in bailout programs dropped 11% week to week, according to Black Knight, a mortgage data and analytics firm.
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