Buyer Beware: If You Live in One Of These Counties, You’re At Higher Risk of Foreclosure

Some 50 counties were nabbed as having a high risk of foreclosure — here's what to know.

a man sits in front of his house that is being sold due to foreclosure
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Home prices continue to soar, leaving middle-class families scrambling to find affordable housing. But it’s not just those looking to buy who feel the pain of increased home prices and a higher cost of living, and many people in established homes risk foreclosure across the country. As inflation swells and the student debt crisis looms larger than ever, middle-class workers are at an increasing disadvantage for obtaining and maintaining what was once considered the hallmark of the American dream: homeownership.

Data compiled by California-based real estate data firm Attom Data Solutions found counties in many major metropolitan areas are at higher risk of foreclosure than other places due to continuing economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. To compile the data, Attom looked at median home prices, local wages, the number of foreclosures, and the number of homeowners who are underwater on their loans, meaning that the mortgage is for more than the home is currently valued.

Where Are You at the Highest Risk of Foreclosure?

The study named the 50 most at-risk counties for home foreclosure, and New York and Chicago-area counties led the pack with eight at-risk counties each.

Cook, De Kalb, Du Page, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties in the Chicago metropolitan area and Bergen, Essex, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Ocean, Passaic, and Sussex counties in New Jersey and Rockland County in New York are the most vulnerable to foreclosure.

California, the only west coast state that made the top 50, has seven at-risk counties: Butte County, El Dorado County, Humboldt County, Shasta County Kern County, Madera County, and Riverside County. California’s at-risk counties are spread throughout the state, not clustered in one metro area like Chicago and New York.

Other high-risk areas include counties in Delaware, Maryland, Wisconsin, Texas, and Florida.

“The U.S. housing market keeps powering on despite the Coronavirus pandemic that’s still raging across the country. Indeed, home prices keep rising in part because of the crisis,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM, in a release. “Nevertheless, the virus remains a potent threat to the broader economy and the housing market, with some of the same counties we’ve seen in the past continuing to look vulnerable to potential downturns. No immediate warning signs hang over any one part of the country, but pockets are more vulnerable to the market taking a turn for the worse.”

Why Are The People in These Counties At Such High Risk?

Attom found that in most at-risk counties, mortgage payments, property taxes, and insurance payments consumed at least 30% of homeowners’ wages, but in the most at-risk county, Rockland County in New York, that percentage soared to 60% of wages going toward home costs.

With only 40% of their take-home pay going towards savings, child care, and other necessities like utilities and food, many middle-class families are already struggling. Coupled with the cessation of the mortgage forbearance program, the end of monthly Child Tax Credit payments, and the resumption of federal student loan payments in May, those workers may be in uncertain budgetary and financial waters.

For a complete and ordered list of the 50 most vulnerable counties, click here.