The Q3 2023 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report recently published by ATTOM Data Solutions reveals what lies ahead for mortgage servicers. Illustrating an increase in foreclosure activity that has continued to escalate since the lapse of the government’s foreclosure moratorium, we are quickly finding ourselves back where we started prior to the pandemic. Before you think this is no big deal… let’s look at what’s happening, why this surge in activity is different, and what you should be doing to stave off disruption.
Foreclosure Activities Sound an Alarm
Foreclosure filings, including default notices, scheduled auctions, bank repossessions, and foreclosure starts are back in the spotlight. Foreclosure filings showed a sharp increase of 28 percent from the previous quarter and a whopping 34 percent over September 2022. Foreclosure starts, which had a minuscule drop over the previous quarter, were up 3 percent over last year. Rob Barber, ATTOM CEO, noted, “foreclosure starts are nearly back to where they were two years ago when the federal government lifted a pandemic-related moratorium on most foreclosure filings.” So yes, they’re back, with bank repossessions also on the rise, up nine percent from Q2 and five percent over Q3 2022.
The Steady Uphill Surge
Is this simply a slow return to what was almost normal before the pandemic? A quick overview of foreclosure filings, as reported by ATTOM, starts to tell the story. Consider that the peak for reported foreclosure filings occurred in 2010, hitting an unimaginable 2.9 million. Steadily dropping in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the past few years were reported as follows, with 2019 representing a 15-year low in U.S. foreclosure activity.
- 2019 – 493,066 properties with foreclosure filings
- 2020 – 214,323 properties with foreclosure filings
- 2021 – 151,153 properties with foreclosure filings
- 2022 – 324,327 properties with foreclosure filings
- 2023 Q1/Q2 – 185,580 properties with foreclosure filings
Post-Pandemic Impact or Not – The Facts
Not… In 2019, borrowers had options, whether looking to purchase a home, refinance their mortgage, or find a solution to delinquency and default. Interest rates were under 4.00%, and with the pandemic influence would eventually fall below 3.00%. In the previous lower interest rate environment, along with a vibrant housing market, distressed homeowners could easily sell their homes before experiencing foreclosure. Alternatively, with low interest rates, many borrowers were able to modify their loans and achieve payment relief. Forbearance also became a meaningful option during the pandemic. Here’s a quick look back at Freddie Mac’s average 30-year interest rates to illustrate the difference:
- 2019 3.94%
- 2020 3.10%
- 2021 2.96%
- 2022 5.34%
Foreclosure Debacle on the Horizon - More Facts
Borrowers in delinquency or facing imminent default are in a tough place. Between economic volatility, a cooling U.S. job market, and rising interest rates, loss mitigation options are not going to be what they were. Freddie Mac’s average 30-year rate at the end of October was 7.08% and edged up to 7.76% for the week of November 2nd, regretfully not uncommon for the past month+.
A year ago, interest rates were significantly lower, and the economy was brighter. Clarifire’s earlier blog commented on ATTOM’s 2022 Q3 report, stating foreclosure filings were up 62 percent over September of 2021, foreclosure starts increased 167 percent over Q3 of 2021, and lender/bank repossessions rose by 39 percent as compared to Q3 2021. Again, illustrating some significant increases in foreclosure activity. A trend that has continued and should not be overlooked.
What is the solution to all of this information?
We have been talking about loss mitigation, foreclosure prevention, and using technology to mitigate those complexities in prior blogs. Now, we need to keep in mind the true value of process automation. This means that the same technology, CLARIFIRE®, not only automates complexities in loss mitigation and pre-delinquency initiatives but also automates foreclosure processes and the sometimes inevitable REO phase. All in one, process automation secures your operational nimbleness with one application and a smart logic approach.
CLARIFIRE® manages continued volatility and proactively assists you, the servicer, and your borrowers from early solicitation, know your customer initiatives, to delinquency through foreclosure prevention. Intelligently evolved over almost two decades, CLARIFIRE® delivers modern workflow automation and sophisticated workout decisioning that can be readily configured to meet your needs when and where you need proven technology.
Work Differently, Implement Now
It should be clear that 2023 and beyond will be a very different default and foreclosure environment. The obstacles that mortgage servicers need to prepare for surpass scaling with volume and will necessitate nimble, adaptive workflow capabilities that you hopefully have already embraced. If not, there’s no time to waste. Higher interest rates equate to higher costs to service, especially on your default portfolio.
Ready your organization to target at-risk borrowers early in delinquency. Identify borrowers by areas and events that are predisposed to delinquency and default. Recognize modification scenarios and workout options tailored to borrower specific needs. Manage corresponding processes, documents, and data in bulk, 24/7, with real-time availability from any device. Add borrower self-service to your arsenal. It is proven to work!
Experience these capabilities and much more with CLARIFIRE® as you harness the power of automation, transparency, and flexibility accessible through Software-as-a-Service. Contact us at eClarifire.com or directly at 866.222.3370 to navigate developing foreclosure challenges as they occur. CLARIFIRE®, truly BRIGHTER AUTOMATION®.
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