RALEIGH – Nationwide, the number of completed foreclosures are now the highest they’ve been since March 2020, an analysis of foreclosure data from ATTOM Data Solutions shows. And North Carolina hasn’t escaped the surge.

Monthly foreclosure filings are up nearly 85% year-over-year, the dataset for North Carolina reveals.  According to the data, one in every 8,175 housing units in North Carolina is currently in a foreclosure process.  The Tar Heel state ranks 26th in the nation by this measure, which was shared with WRAL TechWire upon request.

But the surge doesn’t mean the real estate markets are turning bleak, either.

“It’s very important to keep these numbers in context,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of RealtyTrac, an ATTOM company, in a statement releasing the report.

“Foreclosure completions are still far below normal levels – less than half as many as in January of 2020 before the pandemic was declared, and about 60% lower than the number of foreclosure completions in 2019. We’re likely to continue seeing large year-over-year percentage increases for the rest of this year, but it’s also likely that foreclosure activity will remain below historically normal levels until the end of 2022,” he added.

And the data isn’t necessarily a surprise.

Foreclosures surged in the Triangle last fall as programs designed for homeowners to avoid foreclosure during COVID-19 began to end.

WRAL TechWire reported that foreclosures were up 150% in Durham County and 66.67% in Wake County from the previous quarter, information from ATTOM Data Solutions showed.

Foreclosures in Durham County up 150%, in Wake County, up nearly 68%

What the data tracks

The ATTOM analysis includes an aggregate study of the documents pertaining to foreclosures:

  • notice of default,
  • lis pendens (Oxford Dictionary: a pending legal action, or a formal notice of this),
  • notice of trustee sale,
  • notice of foreclosure sale,
  • real estate owned properties that have been foreclosed upon and reacquired by a banking institution.

In total, there were 304 foreclosure notices issued in January 2021 in the state of North Carolina, whereas in January 2022, there were 566 total foreclosure notices.  There were 565 total notices in December 2021, according to ATTOM data.

While there were a greater number of real estate owned properties in January 2022 (112) compared to December 2021 (93), there were fewer notices of default issued (245 in January 2022 compared to 291 in December 2021) in North Carolina.

There were a total of 2,293 foreclosure filings in North Carolina in January 2018, with one in every 2,293 household units in foreclosure, according to historical data shared by ATTOM.  In January 2019, there were a total of 1,840 foreclosure filings, accounting for one in every 2,457 housing units.  And, in January 2020, prior to the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, there were a total of 2,503 foreclosure filings, or one in every 1,827 housing units.

ATTOM data also shows that more North Carolinians are now considered “equity rich” than prior to the pandemic, as well, and Zillow estimated that North Carolina real estate was worth $1.1 trillion at the end of 2021 with Raleigh homes worth $201 billion.

Foreclosures surge nearly 20% in NC in August after COVID moratorium ended

Regional breakdown

The data set shows that for January 2022, the total number of foreclosure proceedings within each metropolitan statistical area is as follows (Editor’s Note: as portions of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Myrtle Beach, and Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia MSAs fall outside the state of North Carolina, the total number of foreclosures listed below are greater than those calculated based on those specifically within the state of North Carolina):

  • 171 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News
  • 147 Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia
  • 54 Fayetteville
  • 54 Jacksonville
  • 41 Myrtle Beach
  • 34 Winston-Salem
  • 27 Raleigh-Cary
  • 25 Durham-Chapel Hill
  • 24 Greensboro-High Point
  • 19 Asheville
  • 16 Wilmington
  • 14 Rocky Mount
  • 12 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton
  • 11 Shelby
  • 9 Goldsboro
  • 9 New Bern
  • 8 Burlington
  • 8 Elizabeth City
  • 8 Lumberton
  • 6 Dunn
  • 6 Mt. Airy
  • 6 Sanford
  • 6 Wilson
  • 5 Abermarle
  • 5 Pinehurst-Southern Pines
  • 5 Roanoke Rapids
  • 4 Greenville
  • 4 Morehead City
  • 3 Kinston
  • 3 Rockingham
  • 3 Washington
  • 2 Forest City
  • 2 Henderson
  • 2 Kill Devil Hills
  • 2 North Wilkesboro
  • 1 Cullowhee
  • 1 Laurinburg
  • 0 Boone
  • 0 Brevard
  • 0 Marion
  • 0 Oxford

A year ago, in January 2021, the Raleigh area had 28 active foreclosure proceedings, Durham-Chapel Hill had 8, and Greensboro-High Point had 23.  Fayetteville had 31 and Jacksonville had 18.  Charlotte had 54.

As housing market booms, more NC homeowners now ‘equity rich’

Fewer now than pre-pandemic

There are fewer foreclosure proceedings now than there were prior to the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the ATTOM data shows.

In the Raleigh-Cary metropolitan statistical area, for example, there were 239 total foreclosure proceedings in January 2018, 208 in January 2019, and 100 in January of 2020.

In the Durham-Chapel Hill metropolitan statistical area, there were 52 total foreclosure proceedings in January 2018, 34 in January 2019, and 117 in January 2020.

Statewide, there are now more North Carolina homeowners who are considered equity rich, according to a prior ATTOM report, released earlier this year.