Have you seen headlines talking about the increase in foreclosures in today’s housing market? If so, they may leave you feeling a bit uneasy about what’s ahead. But remember, these clickbait titles don’t always give you the full story.
The truth is, if you compare the current numbers with what usually happens in the market, you’ll see there’s no need to worry.
Putting the Headlines into Perspective
The increase the media is calling attention to is misleading. That’s because they’re only comparing the most recent numbers to a time where foreclosures were at historic lows. And that’s making it sound like a bigger deal than it is.
In 2020 and 2021, the moratorium and forbearance program helped millions of homeowners stay in their homes, allowing them to get back on their feet during a very challenging period.
When the moratorium came to an end, there was an expected rise in foreclosures. But just because foreclosures are up doesn’t mean the housing market is in trouble.
Historical Data Shows There Isn’t a Wave of Foreclosures
Instead of comparing today’s numbers with the last few abnormal years, it’s better to compare to long-term trends – specifically to the housing crash – since that’s what people worry may happen again.
Take a look at the graph below. It uses foreclosure data from ATTOM, a property data provider, to show foreclosure activity has been consistently lower (shown in orange) since the crash in 2008 (shown in red):
So, while foreclosure filings are up in the latest report, it’s clear this is nothing like it was back then.
In fact, we’re not even back at the levels we’d see in more normal years, like 2019. As Rick Sharga, Founder and CEO of the CJ Patrick Company, explains:
“Foreclosure activity is still only at about 60% of pre-pandemic levels. . .”
That’s largely because buyers today are more qualified and less likely to default on their loans. Delinquency rates are still low and most homeowners have enough equity to keep them from going into foreclosure. As Molly Boesel, Principal Economist at CoreLogic, says:
“U.S. mortgage delinquency rates remained healthy in October, with the overall delinquency rate unchanged from a year earlier and the serious delinquency rate remaining at a historic low… borrowers in later stages of delinquencies are finding alternatives to defaulting on their home loans.”
The reality is, while increasing, the data shows a foreclosure crisis is not where the market is today, or where it’s headed.
Even though the housing market is experiencing an expected rise in foreclosures, it’s nowhere near the crisis levels seen when the housing bubble burst. If you have questions about what you’re hearing or reading about the housing market, connect with a real estate agent.
There’s No Foreclosure Wave in Sight [INFOGRAPHIC]
- Headlines saying foreclosures are rising might make you feel uneasy. But the truth is, there’s no need to worry.
- If you look at the latest numbers, they’re still below pre-pandemic norms and way below what happened during the crash.
- If you’re worried about a flood of foreclosures, the data shows a foreclosure crisis is not where the market is today and is not where it’s headed.
Foreclosures and Bankruptcies Won’t Crash the Housing Market
If you’ve been following the news recently, you might have seen articles about an increase in foreclosures and bankruptcies. That could be making you feel uneasy, especially if you’re thinking about buying or selling a house.
But the truth is, even though the numbers are going up, the data shows the housing market isn’t headed for a crisis.
Foreclosure Activity Rising, but Less Than Headlines Suggest
In recent years, the number of foreclosures has been very low. That’s because, in 2020 and 2021, the forbearance program and other relief options were put in place to help many homeowners stay in their homes during that tough time.
When the moratorium ended, there was an expected rise in foreclosures. But just because they’re up, that doesn’t mean the housing market is in trouble.
To help you see how much things have changed since the housing crash in 2008, check out the graph below using research from ATTOM, a property data provider. It looks at properties with a foreclosure filing going all the way back to 2005 to show that there have been fewer foreclosures since the crash.
As you can see, foreclosure filings are inching back up to pre-pandemic numbers, but they’re still way lower than when the housing market crashed in 2008. And today, the tremendous amount of equity American homeowners have in their homes can help people sell and avoid foreclosure.
The Increase in Bankruptcies Isn’t Dramatic Either
As you can see below, the financial trouble many industries and small businesses felt during the pandemic didn’t cause a dramatic increase in bankruptcies. Still, the number of bankruptcies has gone up slightly since last year, nearly returning to 2021 levels. But that isn’t cause for alarm.
The numbers for 2021 and 2022 were lower than more typical years. That’s in part because the government provided trillions of dollars in aid to individuals and businesses during the pandemic. So, let’s instead focus on the bar for this year and compare it to the bar on the far left (2019). It shows the number of bankruptcies today is still nowhere near where it was before the pandemic. Both of these two factors are reasons why the housing market isn’t in danger of crashing.
Right now, it’s crucial to understand the data. Foreclosures and bankruptcies are rising, but these leading indicators aren’t signaling trouble that would cause another crash.
Why a Wave of Foreclosures Is Not on the Way
With forbearance plans coming to an end, many are concerned the housing market will experience a wave of foreclosures similar to what happened after the housing bubble 15 years ago. Here are a few reasons why that won’t happen.
There are fewer homeowners in trouble this time
After the last housing crash, about 9.3 million households lost their homes to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they simply gave it back to the bank.
As stay-at-home orders were issued early last year, the fear was the pandemic would impact the housing industry in a similar way. Many projected up to 30% of all mortgage holders would enter the forbearance program. In reality, only 8.5% actually did, and that number is now down to 2.2%.
As of last Friday, the total number of mortgages still in forbearance stood at 1,221,000. That’s far fewer than the 9.3 million households that lost their homes just over a decade ago.
Most of the mortgages in forbearance have enough equity to sell their homes
Due to rapidly rising home prices over the last two years, of the 1.22 million homeowners currently in forbearance, 93% have at least 10% equity in their homes. This 10% equity is important because it enables homeowners to sell their homes and pay the related expenses instead of facing the hit on their credit that a foreclosure or short sale would create.
The remaining 7% might not have the option to sell, but if the entire 7% of those 1.22 million homes went into foreclosure, that would total about 85,400 mortgages. To give that number context, here are the annual foreclosure numbers for the three years leading up to the pandemic:
- 2017: 314,220
- 2018: 279,040
- 2019: 277,520
The probable number of foreclosures coming out of the forbearance program is nowhere near the number of foreclosures that impacted the housing crash 15 years ago. It’s actually less than one-third of any of the three years prior to the pandemic.
The current market can absorb listings coming to the market
When foreclosures hit the market back in 2008, there was an oversupply of houses for sale. It’s exactly the opposite today. In 2008, there was over a nine-month supply of listings on the market. Today, that number is less than a three-month supply. Here’s a graph showing the difference between the two markets.
The data indicates why Ivy Zelman, founder of the major housing market analytical firm Zelman and Associates, was on point when she stated:
“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”
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