History repeating? Housing foreclosures creeping up in York County

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

A steadily declining housing market nationwide has both homeowners and Realtors apprehensive for the future.

Could history be repeating itself? Is York County heading toward another market crash? 

Nationally, foreclosures have slowly risen since pandemic rent and mortgage programs protecting homeowners ended. 

The overall rate of foreclosure filings nationwide increased by close to 14% between July and August, according to data compiled by SoFi, a personal finance company. 

A sign advertises a house for sale in Glen Rock Borough Monday, April 13, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

Local data suggests a similar trend.

Twenty-six houses went to sale in the first three quarters of 2022, compared with 10 properties in first three quarters last year, according to data provided by the York County Sheriff’s office.

Still, these figures are significantly lower than the post-Great Recession statistics. For example, foreclosures in 2015 and 2016 peaked at 139 and 121, respectively.

“We're not taking more properties to sell at this point in time than what we did prior to the pandemic,” said Steven Diehl, chief deputy of operations for the York County Sheriff’s Office. “I think one of the things that really changed with the pandemic is there was a moratorium. It’s never really rebounded since then.”

On the heels of last year's hot market, York County housing sales have since declined. 

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In September, home sales decreased by 19%. The drop is happening at the same time as a rise in the median sale price — 4% — relative to the same time last year, according to the Realtors Association of York and Adams Counties.

And during the first nine months of 2022, York County housing sales overall declined by 7% compared with the same period last year, according to RAYAC statistics. 

Sales prices, however, have remained persistently high.

According to Redfin, which tracks home sales nationwide, York County's median sale price was $245,000 last month, reflecting a 2.1% year-over-year increase, despite the declining total number of sales. The median days on market also remained low — with new listings spending just 9 days on the market before being scooped up.

While foreclosures might not be on the radar this year, local sheriff sales could increase, said RAYAC President Elle Hale.

“This may be something that comes up in the near future because of all the people who are spending or buying homes at well over the asking price,” Hale said. “That may catch up to them.”

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Last year, Hale said, a combination of low inventory and lower interest rates caused a boom in the housing market that even Realtors could not predict. This caused a fast-paced competition, however, with many people buying homes hastily.

Now, with higher interest rates, homeowners are effectively locked into their current home. While most homeowners refinanced their mortgages when rates dropped, if a family wants to sell their existing home, they will need to give up their existing rate for a higher one, according to the Washington Post.