RALEIGH – Foreclosures are surging in Wake County, according to the latest data from ATTOM Data Solutions, which published a report on foreclosure activity this week.

Even in a highly competitive housing market, in a region that has seen strong gains in equity growth and total housing market value, nearly three times more homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure in the first quarter of 2022 than did in 2021 in Wake County.

“We’re seeing increased foreclosure activity across the country, and North Carolina is no exception,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at RealtyTrac, an ATTOM Data Solutions company, in an interview with WRAL TechWire.

“I don’t recall 182% year over year increases even during the Great Recession,” said Sharga.

Across North Carolina, there were 2,265 foreclosures in the first quarter of 2022, according to the data set.  Data from ATTOM also shows that, statewide, there were 9,563 foreclosures in the first quarter of 2007, 7,680 foreclosures in the first quarter of 2008, and 6,402 foreclosures in the first quarter of 2009, for comparison.

Wake County foreclosures up 225% in a month

Wake County foreclosures

Consider the data from Wake County: The county saw 47 foreclosures in the first quarter of 2021, compared to 133 in the first quarter of 2022.  That’s an increase of about 182 percent in one year, which Sharga said was “largely unprecedented.”

Still, foreclosures in Wake County are occurring at a rate lower than either the state or the national average.  That’s tracked by the ratio of total foreclosures compared to the total number of housing units within the ATTOM data set.

In the first quarter of 2022, there was one foreclosure for every 3,478 housing units in Wake County, according to the data.

Nationally, there was one foreclosure in every 1,795 housing units in the first quarter and in North Carolina, there was one foreclosure for every 2,079 housing units.

And while North Carolina’s foreclosure filings increased by 85% in 2021 compared to 2020, Sharga said that the total number of foreclosures filed in the state remains lower than pre-pandemic filings.

Last year, during the first quarter, there were a total of 1,167 foreclosures in North Carolina.  And in 2020, there were 6,118 foreclosures across the state during the first three months of the year.

Report: North Carolina foreclosure filings up 85% from last year

What’s happening?

While foreclosure activity is increasing in many counties across the United States, Sharga notes that it is important to keep the percentage gains in context.

Nationally, the number of foreclosures in the first quarter of 2022 still only about half of the total number of foreclosures that occurred in the first quarter of 2019, prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic during the first quarter of 2020, Sharga wrote in a LinkedIn post this week.

“The influx of foreclosure actions is most likely mortgage servicers “catching up” on loans that were already on foreclosure or were 120+ days delinquent prior to the pandemic and foreclosure moratorium,” Sharga told WRAL TechWire.  Increases in foreclosures or foreclosure rates are not a sign of weakness in current market conditions, Sharga told WRAL TechWire.

“I continue to believe that it’s highly unlikely that we’re in danger of seeing another wave of foreclosures,” Sharga said.  “Unemployment is low, and wages are growing. ”

Sharga also noted that there is still strong demand for housing, despite rising mortgage rates, across the Triangle and in many other parts of the state and the country.  “Homeowners in foreclosure—90% have equity in their homes—should be able to sell rather than lose their home,” said Sharga.

More than enough demand in Triangle housing market, even as mortgage rates rise again