Tri-Cities foreclosures, mortgage delinquencies decline

Foreclosure activity across the nation picked up in February, but not in the Tri-Cities.

Attom Data Solutions’ U.S. Foreclosure Market Report shows new filings up 11% from January and up 129% from a year ago.

The seven-county Tri-Cities market’s new filings are down 51% from January and 5.8% lower than January last year. February’s local new filings totaled 16, compared to 33 in January and 17 January last year.

“February foreclosure activity looks a lot like what we can expect to see for at least the next six months – double-digit month-over-month growth, and triple-digit year-over-year increases,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at RealtyTrac, an ATTOM company. “This isn’t an indication of economic turmoil or of weakness in the housing market; it’s simply the gradual return to normal levels of foreclosure activity after two years of artificially low numbers due to government and industry efforts to protect financially-impacted homeowners from defaulting.”

There’s little doubt that local foreclosure activity will increase during the next six months. But repossessions, trustee sales and mortgage delinquencies are well below historical norms. How they look in the near term is more a function of how the local economy – especially jobs and wages – perform. Historically, the region has an underemployment issue and the lowest average private-sector wages in the state. The biggest unknown is whether the Russian war will drag the global economy into recession.

“The reduced number of foreclosure completions suggests that much of the activity we saw in January was a result of mortgage servicers catching up on processing loans that had been in foreclosure or very seriously delinquent before the pandemic and the moratorium,” Sharga noted. “We can expect more month-to-month volatility as servicers and the court systems work through some of these backlogs.”

About 4% of the mortgaged properties in the four-county Kingsport-Bristol metro area is in some delinquency stage. The number’s a little lower – 3.2% – in the three-county Johnson City metro area. That’s half of what it was this time last year.

The rate for mortgages that are seriously delinquent is 2% in Kingsport-Bristol and 1.6% in the Johnson City metro area.

The current foreclosure rate for both metro areas is 0.2%, which is a little more than half of the Tri-Cities historical norm.

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