Houston Texas Foreclosure Filing Statistics – 2013 to 2023
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This Harris County (the county that encompasses Houston, Texas) foreclosure filing data provides a comprehensive overview of the real estate market dynamics in the Houston area over the past decade. This dataset encompasses a range of significant events, including natural disasters like the Tax Day Floods and Hurricane Harvey, as well as socio-economic challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and fluctuations in the unemployment and average mortgage interest rates.
By analyzing the foreclosure filings from 2013 to 2023, we can gain valuable insights into the impact of these events on homeowners and the real estate market as a whole. It is crucial to note that a foreclosure filing does not necessarily result in a completed foreclosure, but rather indicates the initiation of the foreclosure process.
|Houston area "Memorial Day Floods"||– Details on the Memorial Day floods|
|Houston area "Tax Day Floods"||– Details on the Tax Day floods|
|Hurricane Harvey||– Statistics surrounding Hurricane Harvey|
|Pandemic lockdowns begin||– Details on the Covid-19 lockdowns|
|Harris County foreclosure ban is in effect||– Details on the foreclosure ban|
|"The Great Texas Freeze"||– Details on the Texas freeze of 2021|
|HCUR = Harris County unemployment rate on average by year||– Data sourced from FRED Economic Data|
|AMIR = Average 30-year fixed mortgage interest rate by year||– Mortgage rate data sourced from Freddie Mac|
Houston area “Memorial Day Floods”
In May of 2015, the greater Houston area experienced what is locally referred to as “The Memorial Day Floods” with some areas getting up to 11 inches of rainfall in a 9-hour timespan. More than 3,000 homes and more than 3,500 multifamily units were flooded in the event, which caused over 459 million in damage to the Houston area.
As was the case with this, and other future Houston area flooding events, some of the areas affected were not in designated flood plains and did not carry flood insurance. As is standard with mortgage companies following a natural disaster, it is possible this had some slight dampening affect on the volume of Harris County foreclosure filings as lien-holders worked with those affected to find alternatives to foreclosure.
Houston area “Tax Day Floods”
In April of 2016, the grater Houston area was affected by a flooding event locally referred to as “The Tax Day Floods” with some areas experiencing up to 17 inches of a rainfall in a short timespan, which flooded roads, vehicles and tens of thousands of homes and businesses. Damage from the Tax Day Floods is estimated to have been in the neighborhood of 2.7 billion.
Many homes that flooded were not in designated flood plains and as a result, did not carry flood insurance, leaving their losses uninsured and repairs costs to come out of their own pockets. As a result, some mortgage companies worked with affected homeowners to keep them out of foreclosure status.
In August of 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area hard. Between the unprecedented amount of rainfall – estimated at up to 36 inches in the Houston area – and the difficult decision the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to make in doing controlled water releases from Addicks and Barker Reservoirs, tens of thousands of homes flooded in the greater Houston area. More than 185,000 Texas homes were damaged and more than 9,000 were completely destroyed. The storm was responsible for 125 billion dollars in damage.
Being based in Katy, AMI was profoundly aware of the devastation and impact Harvey had on the greater Houston area. We helped in relief efforts – both financially and with sweat equity – and bought numerous homes that had flooded in the storm. It is estimated that 80% of the homes flooded in Hurricane Harvey did not have flood insurance – which meant the expense of rehabilitating their homes fell squarely on their own personal funds. As a result, mortgage companies showed some grace in the months following the storm, lowering the overall number of foreclosure filings initiated in Harris County.
Unfortunately, some homeowners did not fully understand the distinctions between mortgage forbearance and mortgage deferral in discussions with their mortgage companies when reviewing – and choosing – their options after the storm. Mortgage forbearance typically allows homeowners to temporarily pause or reduce mortgage payments, with the understanding that these payments will be made up later – typically tacked on to the end of the mortgage. In contrast, mortgage deferral involves postponing payments for a period, but these missed payments are often due in full once the deferral period ends.
This lack of clarity between the two eventually led to an increase in foreclosure filings within about six months following the storm, as many homeowners who had opted to accept a mortgage deferment were unprepared for the lump-sum payments required at the end of their deferral periods.
Pandemic lockdowns begin
On March 13, 2020, Governor Abbot declared a statewide emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This came two days after Harris County had independently declared a state of emergency over the pandemic. Three days later, all bars and restaurants across the state closed – aside from takeout orders.
By March 24, Harris County had implemented a stay at home order and closed all businesses, aside from those businesses and employees deemed “essential” in nature. These orders heavily affected the Houston area economy in the time the lockdowns were in place. The loss of income in the area made it impossible for some homeowners to keep up with their mortgage payments.
Harris County foreclosure ban is in effect
As a result of the pandemic causing many homeowners to fall behind in payments due to circumstances outside of their control, in April of 2020, Harris County officials closed down the county foreclosure auctions, which meant while foreclosure filings could continue to be filed with the county, the actual sales of the homes would not take place, allowing homeowners to avoid losing their homes as a result of – and in the middle of – the pandemic lockdowns. In May 2020, a foreclosure auction was allowed to take place, but then the “foreclosure ban” was reenacted via executive order by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, and continued to remain in place until June of 2021.
While foreclosure filings were still allowed to be made, many mortgage companies opted not to waste their time or money pursuing filings during this timeframe – because they knew they would not be able to force a sale – and reportedly many worked with homeowners to find solutions that would not result in an eventual foreclosure filing.
The Great Texas Freeze
In February of 2021, Texas experienced record-low temperatures that resulted in an event dubbed The Great Texas Feeeze. While the temperatures experienced during this event are common in other areas of the country, Texas infrastructure and building practices do not prepare residences and buildings to withstand the freezing temperatures that were experienced in the event. 4.5 million Texans lost power to their homes.
As a result, tens of thousands of homes and businesses had pipes freeze. Due to a lack of preparation for these temperatures in plumbing systems, this caused widespread damage – with some estimates as high as 40% – in Harris County homes that experienced water damage once the water in those broken pipes began melting and invading their houses. The freeze resulted in an estimated 195 billion dollars in damage across Texas.
While, unlike Harvey, many of these damages were covered by insurance, the sheer widespread impact overwhelmed insurance adjusters and caused delays in insurance payouts. Additionally, it caused a shortage in numerous contractor professions – especially plumbers – and their supply chains, causing significant delays in the ability to have affected homes undergo needed repairs. After a natural disaster like this, mortgage companies typically tend to work with people affected who fall behind in mortgage payments vs. accelerating foreclosure processes. Note – the Harris County foreclosure ban was still in effect during the freeze event.
HCUR = Harris County unemployment rate on average by year
Statistical data surrounding the Harris County Unemployment Rate by year was sourced from the FRED economic data compiled by the St. Louis Fed. There is an acknowledged correlation between increased unemployment rates and foreclosure filings.
AMIR = Average 30-year fixed mortgage interest rate by year
Statistical data surround the average 30-year-mortgage interest rates was sourced from Freddie Mac. As fixed interest rates rise, so do adjustable-rate mortgage (ARMs) interest rates. Existing homeowners with ARMs can see their monthly payments increase when mortgage interest rates rise, which might lead to financial strain and increase the risk of falling into foreclosure.
This article is updated monthly near the end of each month to reflect foreclosure filings for the current calendar month. Foreclosure filing data is sourced from the Harris County Clerk. This article was last updated on November 19, 2023.