One in every 118 U.S. homes was in some state of foreclosure during 2014, bringing the national foreclosure rate below 1% for the first time since 2006. The year-end report from RealtyTrac puts the foreclosure rate at 0.85% for 2014, a 17.94% decline from 2013.
Only 11 states plus the District of Columbia reported increases in foreclosure activity — and most of those still have low foreclosure rates on a national scale. Even Florida, the perpetual ruler of the foreclosure kingdom, saw a 23.51% decline in foreclosure activity in 2014 from the year before, though it still took the No. 1 spot with one in every 44 housing units with a foreclosure filing at some point in the year. North Dakota is the true winner in these rankings: Only 30 properties were in foreclosure in 2014 (one in every 10,649 units), a 72.73% drop in foreclosures from 2013. Homeowners are doing pretty well up there.
A property in a state of foreclosure can mean a few things: The owner has either been issued a notice of default, the property has been repossessed, or it has been scheduled for auction. In 2014, about 1.12 million U.S. properties had at least one of these filings, down from the peak of about 2.87 million in 2010 and up from the low of 717,522 in 2006. Even as the foreclosure rate falls nationwide, it’s gaining momentum in some areas of the country. Here’s where foreclosures climbed.
Properties in foreclosure in 2014: 773
Percentage of homes in foreclosure in 2014 (foreclosure rate): 0.3%
Change since 2013: up 0.52%
As the least populated state, a few extra foreclosures can really impact the foreclosure rate. Despite the small increase, Wyoming has one of the lowest foreclosure rates in the U.S. It ranks 43rd out of the 50 states.
Properties in foreclosure in 2014: 4,114
2014 foreclosure rate: 0.62%
Change since 2013: up 0.71%
Idaho’s foreclosure rate, while up slightly, remains below the national average. It’s roughly in the middle of the pack with the 23rd-highest foreclosure rate in 2014.
10. North Carolina
Properties in foreclosure in 2014: 29,052
2014 foreclosure rate: 0.67%
Change since 2013: up 2.04%
North Carolina’s foreclosure rate actually declined about 15% over the past two years, ticking up just a bit in 2014. It ranks 19th among states’ foreclosure rates.
9. New York
Properties in foreclosure in 2014: 47,612
2014 foreclosure rate: 0.59%
Change since 2013: up 3.72%
Even though New York’s foreclosure rate isn’t too bad — it ranks 27th nationally — activity has been on the rise in the past two years. It’s up 39.01% from 2012.
Properties in foreclosure in 2014: 10,857
2014 foreclosure rate: 0.65%
Change since 2013: up 5.42%
Foreclosures in Oregon are down about 20% from 2012, but a 22% increase in foreclosure starts in 2014 helped drive up the state’s overall foreclosure rate. Still, it’s only the 21st-highest in the country.
Properties in foreclosure in 2014: 10,361
2014 foreclosure rate: 0.37%
Change since 2013: up 6.35%
Fewer foreclosures were completed in 2014 than in 2013, but a flood of new filings bumped up the foreclosure rate in Massachusetts. It still maintains one of the lower rates, coming in at No. 40 among the states.
Properties in foreclosure in 2014: 40,143
2014 foreclosure rate: 1.69%
Change since 2013: up 7.95%
It may have only nudged up only about 8% in the last year, but foreclosures in Maryland have exploded since 2012: 134.4% growth in the past two years. As a result, it has the third-highest foreclosure rate in the nation.
Properties in foreclosure in 2014: 490
2014 foreclosure rate: 0.10%
Change since 2013: up 14.22%
There weren’t a ton of foreclosures happening in Montana, but there are more than there were in 2013. Only Vermont, D.C. and North Dakota have lower foreclosure rates (though D.C. doesn’t get a spot in the rankings).
Properties in foreclosure in 2014: 1,451
2014 foreclosure rate: 0.48%
Change since 2013: up 22.04%
The courts in Alaska moved things along this year by completing 28% more foreclosures than in 2013. Even though there were fewer foreclosure starts than last year, the home repossessions helped boost Alaska’s foreclosure rate more than 22% from 2013 to 2014, putting it at No. 33 in the national foreclosure rankings.
3. District of Columbia
Properties in foreclosure in 2014: 213
2014 foreclosure rate: 0.07%
Change since 2013: up 41.06%
RealtyTrac doesn’t include D.C. in its foreclosure rate rankings, but if it did, it would be the second-lowest, after North Dakota. The number of properties entering the foreclosure process skyrocketed in the past two years — up 409% from 2012 — contributing to the significant increase in foreclosure rate.
Properties in foreclosure in 2014: 2,251
2014 foreclosure rate: 0.18%
Change since 2013: up 50.67%
There was an explosion of foreclosure starts in Mississippi in 2014 — an increase of 501% from 2013. They’re not being completed very quickly, but that influx of filings pushed Mississippi’s foreclosure rate up significantly, even though it has one of the lowest rates in the nation (No. 45).
1. New Jersey
Properties in foreclosure in 2014: 66,627
2014 foreclosure rate: 1.87%
Change since 2013: up 70.82%
It’s no challenge finding New Jersey properties in foreclosure — it’s the most densely populated state in the country (though D.C. has a higher population density), and it has the second-highest foreclosure rate, with one in every 53 housing units in some state of foreclosure last year. Foreclosure starts and completions were up in New Jersey from 2013 to 2014. In the fourth quarter of 2014, New Jersey actually beat Florida out for highest foreclosure rate.
Foreclosure can have a devastating effect on a homeowner’s finances and credit standing, though it’s not impossible to recover. It all starts with buying a house you can actually afford — that means getting a mortgage that suits you best — and quickly adjusting when circumstances change your ability to pay all your bills on time. If you make timely mortgage payments and keep a balanced budget, the loan will almost certainly improve your credit and your financial future. You can see how your mortgage is impacting your credit scores for free on Credit.com.
More on Mortgages & Homebuying:
- Why You Should Check Your Credit Before Buying a Home
- How to Find & Choose a Mortgage Lender
- How to Refinance Your Home Loan With Bad Credit