Foreclosure filings fall to a low last seen after the housing bubble

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The number of properties with foreclosure filings dropped to the lowest quarterly amount since the Great Recession, according to Attom Data Solutions.

A total of 161,875 filings were recorded in Attom's U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for the first quarter, down 15% year-over-year and 23% from the previous quarter. The last time foreclosure activity dipped this low was the first quarter of 2008.

Total foreclosure filings fell even though foreclosure starts increased on a consecutive-quarter basis. There were 91,397 filings started on U.S. properties in the first quarter, up 7% from the previous quarter, but down 3% from a year ago, marking the 15th consecutive quarter with a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure starts.

Bank-repossessed properties fell year-over-year for the 14th straight quarter. There were 35,787 real estate owned properties in 2019's opening quarter, and REO was down by 45% annually and 21% from the prior quarter.

"While some markets saw a slight uptick in foreclosure filings that is above pre-recession levels, the majority of the major markets are well below pre-recession levels," Todd Teta, chief product officer at Attom Data Solutions, said in a press release. "While we did see a slight increase in U.S. foreclosure starts from last quarter, bank repossessions reached an all-time low in the first quarter of 2019, showing continuing signs of a strong housing market."

Foreclosure timelines rose for the second quarter in a row, going to 835 days from 791 the year prior and from 811 in 2018's fourth quarter. The average time to foreclose has grown steadily since the financial crisis, when it ballooned to a high of 1,027 days in the closing quarter of 2017.

There was a wide gap of in foreclosure processing times from state to state in the first quarter. A total of nine had average foreclosure timelines above a thousand days. Indiana led with 1,806 days, followed by Hawaii's 1,565 and Arizona's 1,385. On the opposite end of the spectrum, West Virginia had the shortest timeline at 159 days, with Virginia next at 206 and followed by Minnesota at 235.

Atlantic City, N.J., had the highest foreclosure rate out of the 220 metropolitan areas with populations of 200,000 that Attom tracks. One in every 177 housing units in the city had a foreclosure filing. Other areas with high foreclosure rates include Lakeland, Fla., which had one foreclosure for every 338 units, and Trenton, N.J., with one for every 345 units.

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Foreclosures Distressed REO Mortgage defaults Attom Data Solutions