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Foreclosures rise in October as moratorium expiration ripples through housing market

by John Yellig

While the expiration of the federal moratorium on foreclosure filings continues to impact homeowners struggling with the economic effects of the pandemic, the pace of filings has slowed from the initial shock that followed the end of the moratorium on July 31.

According to real estate data provider ATTOM Data Solutions, foreclosure filings, which include default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions, rose 5% in October on a monthly basis and 76% from October 2020, to 20,587 filings.

“As expected, now that the moratorium has been over for three months, foreclosure activity continues to increase,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at RealtyTrac, an ATTOM company. “But it’s increasing at a slower rate, and it appears that most of the activity is primarily on vacant and abandoned properties, or loans that were in foreclosure prior to the pandemic.”

Among the 220 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas tracked by ATTOM, Miami and Chicago had some of the highest foreclosure rates, alongside Trenton, N.J., St. Louis and Cleveland. At the state level, Illinois, Florida, New Jersey, Nevada and Ohio had the highest foreclosure rates.

The start of the foreclosure process picked up speed in October nationwide, with a 5% month-over-month increase and a 115% surge from October 2020. New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta led the way among major metro areas by foreclosure starts.

“Most foreclosure activity for the next few months is likely to be foreclosure starts, since virtually nothing entered the foreclosure process during the past year,” Sharga said in the release. “The ratio of foreclosure starts to foreclosure completions will normalize over time as we get back to normal levels of activity.”

Foreclosure completions rose 13% month over month and 17% year over year, ATTOM said. Major urban areas with the highest foreclosure completions were St. Louis, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York.

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