US foreclosures drop to lowest level since 2005, but in Florida they are rising

About 625K homes faced foreclosure in 2018, a fraction of the nearly 2.9M recorded at peak in 2010

By Alex Nitkin.

American lenders last year initiated foreclosures on the fewest number of American homes since 2005, raising hopes that the worst of the last housing crisis might be in the rearview mirror. While overall foreclosure numbers fell nationwide, several states recorded increases, including Florida.

In total, about 625,000 homes faced foreclosure in 2018, a fraction of the nearly 2.9 million recorded at the peak of the foreclosure crisis in 2010, according to a report from ATTOM Data Solutions released Thursday.

Lenders initiated foreclosures on 0.47 percent of American homes last year, 0.4 percentage point decline from 2017 and a 13-year low.

ATTOM tallied default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions to reach its totals.

The drop is evidence that “most of the distress from the last housing crisis has now been cleaned up,” according to ATTOM’s Todd Teta.

In December alone, the 52,069 properties targeted for foreclosure represented a 19 percent dip year over year, and the sixth consecutive month of year-over-year-decline following a brief spike in July,

But the numbers didn’t decline in every part of the country.

Filings picked up 13 percent last year in Florida, the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis a decade ago. The state registered one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation in 2018, with about 0.71 percent of homeowners defaulting on their loans.

New Jersey, which has posted the country’s highest foreclosure rate every year since 2015, saw 1.33 percent of homeowners default last year, according to the report. Illinois came in third at 0.74 percent.

The foreclosure numbers are mostly consistent with ATTOM’s mid-2018 report, which found numbers dropping in the New York and Chicago metro areas, but ramping up in Los Angeles and South Florida. That indicates lenders could be loosening their criteria in those markets. Foreclosure activity rose sharply in New York City in 2017, reaching its highest level there since 2009.

The falling nationwide foreclosure numbers coincide with a steady drop in mortgage delinquencies, buoying confidence in the wider economy even as the U.S. housing market shows signs of slowing.

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