Homeownership Slips Into Unaffordable Territory Across Majority of U.S. in Fourth Quarter of 2020

IRVINE, Calif. – November 10, 2020 —ATTOM Data Solutions, licensor of the nation’s most comprehensive foreclosure data and parent company to RealtyTrac (, a foreclosure listings portal, today released its October 2020 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows there were a total of 11,673 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions — in October 2020, up 20 percent from a month ago but down 79 percent from a year ago.

“It’s a little surprising to see foreclosure activity increasing in spite of the various foreclosure moratoria that are in place,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of RealtyTrac, an ATTOM Data Solutions company. “It’s likely that many of these properties were already in the early stages of default prior to the pandemic, or are vacant and abandoned, which makes them candidates for expedited foreclosure actions.”

South Carolina, Nebraska and Alabama post highest state foreclosure rates

Nationwide one in every 11,683 housing units had a foreclosure filing in October 2020. States with the highest foreclosure rates were South Carolina (one in every 6,133 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Nebraska (one in every 6,246 housing units); Alabama (one in every 6,660 housing units); Louisiana (one in every 7,078 housing units); and Florida (one in every 7,208 housing units).

Among the 220 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 200,000, those with the highest foreclosure rates in October 2020 were Peoria, IL (one in every 1,543 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Champaign, IL (one in every 1,674 housing units); Beaumont, TX (one in every 1,880 housing units); Birmingham, AL (one in every 1,993 housing units); and Houma, LA (one in every 2,964 housing units).

Those metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million that posted the worst foreclosure rates in October 2020, including Birmingham, AL, were Cleveland, OH (one in every 4,511 housing units); Jacksonville, FL (one in every 5,119 housing units); New Orleans, LA (one in every 6,397 housing units); and Miami, FL (one in every 6,794 housing units).

Foreclosure starts increase monthly nationwide

A total of 6,042 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process in October 2020, up 21 percent from last month but down 79 percent from a year ago.

The most populous of the 296 counties with unaffordable major expenses on median-priced homes for average earners in the fourth quarter of 2020 (53 percent of the counties analyzed) were Los Angeles County, CA; Maricopa County (Phoenix), AZ; San Diego County, CA; Orange County, (outside Los Angeles), CA, and Miami-Dade County, FL.

Home prices up at least 10 percent in more than three quarters of country

Median home prices in the fourth quarter of 2020 were up by at least 10 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019 in 395, or 79 percent, of the 499 counties included in the report. Counties were included if they had a population of at least 100,000 and at least 50 single-family home and condo sales in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Report Methodology

The ATTOM Data Solutions U.S. Home Affordability Index analyzes median home prices derived from publicly recorded sales deed data collected by ATTOM Data Solutions and average wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 499 U.S. counties with a combined population of 232.4 million. The affordability index is based on the percentage of average wages needed to pay for major expenses on a median-priced home with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and a $100,000 loan. Those expenses include property taxes, home insurance, mortgage payments and mortgage insurance. Average 30-year fixed interest rates from the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey were used to calculate the monthly house payments.

The report determined affordability for average wage earners by calculating the amount of income needed for major home ownership expenses on a median-priced home, assuming a $100,000 loan and a 28 percent maximum “front-end” debt-to-income ratio. For instance, the nationwide median home price of $297,200 in the fourth quarter of 2020 required an annual gross income of $64,447, based on a $100,000 loan and monthly expenses not exceeding the 28 percent barrier — meaning households would not be spending more than 28 percent of their income on mortgage payments, property taxes and insurance. That required income is more than the $64,447 average wage nationwide based on the most recent average weekly wage data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, making a median-priced home nationwide unaffordable for an average household with two wage earners.

About ATTOM Data Solutions

ATTOM Data Solutions provides premium property data to power products that improve transparency, innovation, efficiency and disruption in a data-driven economy. ATTOM multi-sources property tax, deed, mortgage, foreclosure, environmental risk, natural hazard, and neighborhood data for more than 155 million U.S. residential and commercial properties covering 99 percent of the nation’s population. A rigorous data management process involving more than 20 steps validates, standardizes and enhances the data collected by ATTOM, assigning each property record with a persistent, unique ID — the ATTOM ID. The 20TB ATTOM Data Warehouse fuels innovation in many industries including mortgage, real estate, insurance, marketing, government and more through flexible data delivery solutions that include bulk file licenses, property data APIs, real estate market trends, marketing lists, match & append and introducing the first property data delivery solution, a cloud-based data platform that streamlines data management – Data-as-a-Service (DaaS).