A 2022 foreclosure report showed an increase in activity at the start of the year, which experts say is not surprising considering the circumstances.
According to ATTOM’s January U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, there were a total of 23,204 properties with a foreclosure filing such as a default notice, scheduled auction, or bank repossession.
This number of properties is an increase of 29 percent from a month earlier, and an increase of 139 percent compared to January 2021.
Rick Sharga, executive vice president of RealtyTrac, an ATTOM company, said the increase wasn’t a surprise because foreclosure activity usually slows down in November and December due to the holidays.
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Sharga said that although the numbers generally pick up at the start of the year, this year’s increase is probably more drastic because foreclosure restrictions put in place by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau expired at the end of December.
He also said that it’s important for consumers to keep the increases in context, because foreclosure completions are still below normal levels.
According to the report, bank repossessions were up 57 percent in January, at 4,784.
This was a 235 percent year-over-year increase that also was partially a result of the government-enforced foreclosure delays that expired at the end of July.
Michigan had the largest increase in bank repossessions compared to December, up 622 percent.
Georgia and Texas followed, with 163 percent and 98 percent, respectively.
Sharga said foreclosure activity will likely remain below historically normal levels until the end of the year.
Nationwide, one in every 5,922 housing units had a foreclosure filing in January, and lenders started the foreclosure process on 11,854 properties.
In response, states are providing assistance to residents to prevent foreclosures.
In Michigan, which had one in every 3,127 housing units with a foreclosure filing, homeowners can apply to an assistance fund for up to $25,000 per household to stop foreclosures.
The funds can assist 8,300 homeowners with the maximum amount.
Homeowners who are having difficulty making their monthly mortgage payments should reach out to their mortgage lender or housing counselor, experts say.
The lender can discuss a homeowner’s specific options, experts say, including whether selling the home or refinancing can help.
Some lenders may recommend debt consolidation refinancing, also known as a cash-out refinance.
With this type of refinance, homeowners can tap into home equity to pay down other debts and potentially improve their overall financial health.