Foreclosures remained at near-historic low levels in the Triad during April, as most proceedings have been on pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
National real-estate research firm Attom Data Solutions reported Thursday the five-county Winston-Salem metropolitan statistical area had 26 foreclosure filings in April, compared with 27 in March, 41 in February and 19 in April 2020.
The counties are Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Stokes and Yadkin.
By comparison, the Greensboro-High Point MSA had 51 filings in April, compared with 29 filings in March, 38 in February and 26 in April 2020.
Most foreclosures that proceeded in 2020 were related to vacant and abandoned properties.
However, Attom analysts have warned there could be substantial unleashing of foreclosure filings accompanying an economic recovery this year.
Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order in March 2020 in which he urged banks, credit unions and other lenders “not to charge customers for overdraft fees, late fees and other penalties.”
Also, the federal CARES Act provided forbearance for borrowers with federally backed mortgage loans who were economically impacted by the pandemic.
According to Attom, the Charlotte area had 83 filings in April, along with 80 in March and 66 in April 2020.
The Durham-Chapel Hill area had nine filings in April, along with 14 in March and nine in April 2020.
The Raleigh-Cary MSA had 15 filings in April, along with 32 in March and 29 in April 2020.
“Foreclosure activity continues to trend near historic lows as we enter the 14th month of the federal government’s foreclosure and eviction moratorium,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at RealtyTrac, an Attom affiliate.
“Because of these programs, and the nearly 90% success rate of borrowers resuming mortgage payments as they exit forbearance, a large influx of foreclosures when the programs expire seems very, very unlikely.”
Attom also released its first-quarter report on homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages, which signifies they owe more on the loan than the home is worth.
Attom defines seriously underwater as owing at least 25% more on a mortgage than the property’s value.
The Winston-Salem MSA had 7,415 residences in that category, or 5.7% of all mortgages.
Attom said the underwater mortgage loans data can be used to help evaluate homeowners’ vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, there were 21.8% in Winston-Salem area households, or 28,289, in the equity-rich category, which means they own at least 50% of their home.
By comparison, the Greensboro-High Point MSA had 5.5%, or 8,001 residences, considered as seriously underwater.
The region also had 21.7%, or 31,504, in the equity-rich category.
For North Carolina’s other metro areas for the underwater category, the Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord MSA was at 3.5%, or 18,443 households. The Raleigh-Cary MSA was as 2.7%, or 7,827 households, while the Durham-Chapel Hill MSA was 3.3%, or 3,251 households.
In the equity-rich category, the Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord MSA was at 29%, or 152,793 households. The Raleigh-Cary MSA was at 25.7%, or 75,425 households, while the Durham-Chapel Hill MSA was at 31%, or 30,831 households.
“The on-going price spikes we’re seeing help to cut down the number of seriously underwater properties and boost the level of equity-rich properties,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with Attom.
“However, that may shift once the foreclosure moratorium is lifted. That’s something we’re watching, partly because it could limit equity gains and draw people underwater.”
Officials with the Winston-Salem Regional Association of Realtors have cautioned that information on underwater loans can affect the real-estate market by undermining consumer confidence, causing some hesitation in buying or trying to sell a house now, and prompting an overreaction.
Many banks and mortgage lenders have accelerated the pace of pushing unsalvageable mortgages through the foreclosure process in recent years.
Their main motivation: Provisions for potential loan losses on commercial and residential mortgages have a direct effect on banks’ bottom lines.