Foreclosure Rates Are Surging: These 10 U.S. Cities Are Where They’re Up the Most
Foreclosures in America are on the rise for the second year in a row. This puts a firm bookend on an 11-year decline in the forced repossession or sale of a home when a homeowner can’t pay the mortgage.
But let’s take a deep breath: The current rise in foreclosure activity is not uniform across the country. Even more than 15 years ago, when the bottom fell out of the housing market, there are more distressed properties in some areas than others. That’s why the data team at Realtor.com® went out to find which places are experiencing high—and growing—percentages of foreclosure filings.
However, before anyone panics, there is no wave of foreclosures threatening to wash across the country, bringing down home values like the epic crash that occurred during the Great Recession. And the foreclosed properties that do make it onto the market will likely be snapped up quickly by buyers frustrated by high prices and the lack of homes for sale.
In June, roughly 2.5 out of every 10,000 homes had a distressed property or foreclosure filing, according to data provided by ATTOM, a real estate data clearinghouse. In the first six months of 2023, the total of homes receiving a foreclosure filing was just under 186,000. In the years around the housing recession of the late 2000s, about 15 times as many borrowers were going through foreclosure.
The current increase is likely due to the pause in foreclosure activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, says Geoff Walsh, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.
Today’s rise in foreclosure filings is now catching up with borrowers who might have otherwise already been foreclosed on months or years ago.
We found the current foreclosure rate is highest (and climbing) in several medium-sized metros, scattered across the Southeast and Northeast. One factor that can sneak up on homeowners is rising property tax assessments, in the wake of the breakneck pace of home value increases of the past few years.
“As property values have exploded in some areas,” says Hannah Jones, an economic research analyst at Realtor.com, “property taxes have as well.”
In Austin, where Jones lives, a friend’s property tax bill rose $700 per month.
“It can make these homes unaffordable even if the owner has a low mortgage rate,” says Jones.
And a rising tax bill is just one cost of living crunch among others, as inflation has meant soaring grocery and gas bills in recent years. All of it squeezes homeowners’ budgets.
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However, those same rising property values provide struggling homeowners with a measure of protection. If they can’t make their mortgage payments, they can put their homes up for sale. And in many cases, they are able to walk away from the sale with a profit.
To make some sense of what’s going on with foreclosures, we ranked metropolitan areas with high and growing foreclosure rates by comparing June 2023 ATTOM data to May 2023 and June 2022 to see where the foreclosure rate is rising month over month and year over year. Then we ranked these metros based on the current foreclosure rate. We selected only one metro per state.
Foreclosure filings include default, lis pendens, trustee sale, foreclosure sale, and real estate-owned notices.
Here are the places with high and growing foreclosure filing rates.
1. Atlantic City, NJ
Median list price: $392,450
June foreclosure filings per 10,000 housing units: 6.8
Atlantic City, an iconic beach town renowned for its casinos and boardwalk (one of the longest in the world) as well as its infamous role in Prohibition-era bootlegging, has nearly 7 out of every 10,000 housing units facing foreclosure. This isn’t new for the area, which struggled with foreclosures after the housing bubble burst.
According to David Fiorenza, an economics professor at Villanova University, the rise in distressed properties here is partly due to a hangover from the COVID-19 stimulus package that helped pr0p up the local economy.
“You had the ARPA money propping up the finances of these local governments,” Fiorenza says of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. “They used it for infrastructure, like roads and highways, and they bought police cars and firetrucks. Those things are good, but now these governments are catching up.”
That means more tax revenue is needed—which can show up in the form of higher property taxes. Exacerbating the problem, the city has a higher-than-average poverty and unemployment rate.
Atlantic City has long been marked by economic swings, Fiorenza says, with the gaming and entertainment industries largely dictating the health of the local economy.
It’s been an especially wild roller coaster in the past few years, he says, with casinos closing and reopening. It can have the downstream effect of homeowners not keeping up with their mortgages.
“I don’t think anyone saw this coming,” he says. “I didn’t.”
2. Florence, SC
Median list price: $273,950
June foreclosure filings per 10,000 housing units: 6
Florence, located in the northeastern part of South Carolina about an hour east of the capital city of Columbia, is in an area called “Pee Dee,” after the Pee Dee River that flows through the Carolinas’ Appalachian range.
The housing stock in Florence is mostly single-family homes, predominantly ranches and two-story units. A bonus for buyers is homes here are priced well below the national average of $445,000 in June.
At 6 foreclosures for every 10,000 homes, the rate in the Florence metro is about 2.5 times the national average. And it’s been rising, up 15% since the same time last year.
For homebuyers, it means there are deals to be had. For just $55,000, home shoppers can get a four-bedroom foreclosed home in the Florence area.
3. New Haven, CT
Median list price: $424,850
June foreclosure filings per 10,000 housing units: 5.6
Connecticut has been on a tear the past few years, with many of the Nutmeg State’s population hubs included in our hottest markets lists—New Haven included.
The area is home to Yale University and prides itself on its clam pizza, but the city and state are also known for high property taxes.
With a rate of foreclosures per 10,000 homes ticking up from 3 last year to 4 in May, before hitting 5.6 in June, the area is definitely seeing a rise and now has more than the national average.
4. Baltimore, MD
Median list price: $365,875
June foreclosure filings per 10,000 housing units: 5.5
Baltimore was no stranger to the foreclosure crisis plaguing the nation about 15 years ago. Now, the city’s back in the spotlight for its distressed properties.
The biggest increase in year-over-year foreclosures of any place on our list is in Baltimore. This iconic maritime city, known for its distinctive row houses, has seen its foreclosures nearly quintuple in a year.
In June of this year, the ATTOM data shows, the Baltimore metro area, which includes nearby Columbia and Towson and has nearly 3 million residents, had 655 homes facing some kind of foreclosure filing. That figure was just 136 in June 2022.
This three-bedroom townhome in the Pen Lucy neighborhood is in foreclosure and listed for $100,000.
5. Mobile, AL
Median list price: $263,250
June foreclosure filings per 10,000 housing units: 5.3
Mobile has been an area that has generally withstood the current housing market cool-off, with relatively affordable real estate and some of the quality of life amenities more home shoppers have been looking for in the past few years: warmer winters and proximity to beaches.
Christy Gustin, a Realtor at Bellator Real Estate & Development in Mobile, says the past couple of years have been a time of rising home values and quick sales, even recently as the market has cooled across the country.
One foreclosure caught her eye recently.
“I saw one on the [multiple listing service] the other day, and I thought to myself, ‘That’s interesting. I haven’t seen a foreclosure in a while,’” she says. “And believe me, I’ve got buyers who want to see them.”
6. Orlando, FL
Median list price: $459,450
June foreclosure filings per 10,000 housing units: 5.1
The aftermath of the housing bust took a toll on Florida’s homeowners as foreclosures became a common sight throughout the state. Now they’re rising again in several regions, but none as high as Orlando.
Paul Urich, a bankruptcy attorney in Orlando, says he’s witnessed it firsthand in recent months, as the COVID-19-related foreclosure moratorium has ended and homeowners are facing more expensive basic goods.
“I’m seeing a lot more foreclosures,” Urich says.
Many who are having a tough time paying their mortgage are retired folks on fixed incomes. Inflation is to blame for much of it, Urich says, with everyday costs putting pressure on those fixed incomes that retirees were counting on to cover all of their other expenses.
Foreclosures are “going to keep rising,” he says. “The mortgage companies are over COVID, and they’re now putting these houses up for foreclosure.”
7. Macon, GA
Median list price: $259,250
June foreclosure filings per 10,000 housing units: 4.8
Near the geographic center of Georgia, you’ll find Macon, a relatively small metro area with just 233,000 residents about 1.5 hours southeast of Atlanta. It’s known for its historic architecture and Southern charm, named after Nathaniel Macon, a former U.S. senator.
Macon has relatively affordable housing, but in June the area had a foreclosure rate more than three times the national average. And it’s been climbing, up more than 50% from the same time last year—ticking up 16% just since May.
Home shoppers in this area looking for a foreclosed home can find this three-bedroom brick ranch listed for $71,000.
8. Philadelphia, PA
Median list price: $354,950
June foreclosure filings per 10,000 housing units: 4.8
The City of Brotherly Love is the largest metro on our list of areas with a high and growing foreclosure rate. Villanova economics professor Fiorenza says there are some pockets of the city showing serious economic strains, causing some of the spike in the metro’s overall rate.
“You’re seeing more foreclosures, especially in the suburbs of Philadelphia,” he says. “Take a look at the city of Chester.”
This small municipality has some of the worst budget deficits anywhere, with mounting pension obligations and a recent municipal bankruptcy filing. That trickles down, Fiorenza says, to the real estate market.
“On top of all the city’s finance problems,” he says, “they’re still struggling to get all these distressed areas cleaned up and rehabbed.”
That means stagnant or declining home values, low housing demand, and a depressed local economy, Fiorenza says, all of which can lead to foreclosures.
9. Peoria, IL
Median list price: $169,675
June foreclosure filings per 10,000 housing units: 4.5
Once known as the “Whiskey Capital of the World” for its abundance of distilleries, Peoria is one of the oldest settlements in Illinois. Located on the Illinois River, the local economy is now centered on manufacturing and farming.
The city has long been a haven for housing affordability, typifying the less expensive Midwestern housing markets. Over the past year, the metro experienced a roughly 20% increase in foreclosure filings.
Now, it’s possible to find a 2,400-square-foot, four-bedroom home in foreclosure for less than $25,000.
10. Modesto, CA
Median list price: $532,438
June foreclosure filings per 10,000 housing units: 4.3
In California’s Central Valley, about 70 miles south of Sacramento, the Modesto metro area is home to around 500,000 residents (and the birthplace of “Star Wars” creator George Lucas). It’s known for being a bit more affordable than most of California’s pricey housing markets. But it’s now got a foreclosure rate of around three times the national average, and one that is more than 40% up from this time last year.
A small two-bedroom home in foreclosure can be found for less than $300,000 in Modesto right now.