The front door of a condemned Cedar Street property in Belfast, which has been vacant for years and is in pre foreclosure. Credit: Abigail Curtis / BDN

Maine ranks in the top one-third of U.S states having the highest number of foreclosures per housing units in the area, a new report found.

The number of home foreclosure filings in Maine has risen sharply since the pandemic-related federal moratorium ended last July. There were 373 properties in foreclosure from January through March, up 23 percent since the final three months of 2022, according to a report released Thursday by ATTOM, which tracks foreclosures nationwide.

The first quarter numbers also are up 81 percent compared with the first quarter of 2021, when the federal moratorium was still in place.

Maine’s numbers are high but still sit below overall U.S. rates. Some 78,221 properties nationally were in foreclosure in the first quarter of this year, up 132 percent over the first quarter of 2021 and up 39 percent compared to the fourth quarter of last year. March was the 11th consecutive month showing a year-over-year rise in U.S. foreclosure activity.

Foreclosures rose in all of Maine’s metropolitan areas. In Bangor, 49 properties were in foreclosure during the first three months of this year, up 58 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2021 and an increase of almost 17 percent over the final quarter of 2021. That represents one in every 1,528 housing units in the area.

The Augusta-Waterville area saw foreclosed properties increase 161 percent to 47 units from the first three months of last year to the same months this year. It was an increase of 62 percent over the fourth quarter of 2021. That is one in every 1,332 housing units in the area.

The Lewiston-Auburn saw 38 foreclosure listings in the first quarter of this year, or about one in 1,312 housing units in the area. The listings are up almost 138 percent since the first three months of last year and up 52 percent over the fourth quarter.

Although the Portland-South Portland area saw a strong uptick as well, it was lower than each of the other three areas. The southern Maine area registered 100 foreclosure filings in the first three months of 2022, up 72 percent over the same months of 2021 but only about 10 percent higher than the last quarter of 2021. That is about one in every 2,806 housing units in the area.

Across New England, Connecticut saw the highest number of housing units in foreclosure in the first quarter of this year with one in every 1,857, ranking it 14th nationwide. Maine ranked 17th with one in 1,981 housing units listed as being in foreclosure. Massachusetts ranked 35th, New Hampshire 38th and Rhode Island 39th. Vermont had the fewest housing units in foreclosure at one in 13,930, ranking it 49th nationally.

Even with the high yearly increases, foreclosure activity is still about half of what it was in the first quarter of 2020, which was the last quarter before the government enacted consumer protection programs including delayed mortgage payments and temporarily prohibiting foreclosures, Rick Sharga, executive vice president at ATTOM, said.

“It’s likely that we’ll continue to see significant month-over-month and year-over-year growth through the second quarter of 2022,” Sharga said. “But we still won’t reach historically normal levels of foreclosures until the end of the year at the earliest, unless the U.S. economy takes a significant turn for the worse.”