US foreclosure filings jumped 22% in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago, according to a report from real estate data analytics firm ATTOM.
While still below pre-pandemic levels, foreclosure activity has increased on an annual basis for 23 straight months. The uptrend reflects higher jobless rates, ongoing economic challenges, and backlogged foreclosures working through the pipeline after the lifting of government interventions to help struggling homeowners during the pandemic, said Rob Barber, chief executive officer of ATTOM.
“However, with many homeowners still having significant home equity, that may help in keeping increased levels of foreclosure activity at bay,” Barber said in a statement.
The number of foreclosure filings has been climbing since the federal moratorium ended in mid-2021. During the pandemic, an estimated 2 million homeowners fell behind on their mortgages.
Major metropolitan cities with populations of more than 200,000 that had the most foreclosures starting last quarter included New York (4,674); Chicago (3,549); Los Angeles (2,210); Houston (2,120); and Philadelphia (1,985).
Meanwhile, on a percentage basis, Michigan topped the list of states with a 41% increase in foreclosure filings from the previous quarter.
Major metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates in the January-March period included Fayetteville, North Carolina (one in every 526 housing units); Cleveland (one in 582); Atlantic City, New Jersey (one in 661); Columbia, South Carolina (one in 671); and Bakersfield, California (one in 688).
Barber pointed out that on January, 24 out of 30 metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates had median household incomes below the nationwide median of about $71,000, according to the US Census Bureau data. Unemployment rates exceeded 5% in nine of the top 30 metros, based on December 2022 federal data.