While the federal moratoriums are keeping the numbers low, ATTOM Data Solutions reports that 16 percent more residential properties received a foreclosure filing in February compared to a month earlier. The 11,281 properties that were subject to a default notice, scheduled auction or a bank repossession was down 77 percent year-over-year. Nationwide one in every 12,182 housing units were the recipient of a filing in February 2021.

"Extensions to the Federal Government's foreclosure moratorium and CARES Act mortgage forbearance programs continue to keep foreclosure activity historically low," said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of RealtyTrac, an ATTOM Data Solutions company. "These government actions, and the efforts of lenders and mortgage servicing companies, have helped millions of homeowners avoid foreclosure during a year-long global pandemic and a recession that resulted in 22 million lost jobs."

States with the highest foreclosure rates were Utah, with one in every 3,883 housing units getting a filing; Delaware (one in 5,219); Florida (one in 6,232); Illinois (one 6,336); and Louisiana (one 7,923). Among metro areas, Provo, Utah: Shreveport, Louisiana, Lake Havasu, Arizona, Cleveland, and Florence, South Carolina topped the list. Provo's rate, a filing for every 787 housing units, was nearly three times that of second place Shreveport.

Foreclosure starts hit 5,999 U.S. properties in February, a 15 percent increase for the month. Twenty-nine states had an increase in starts, with Utah up 230 percent. North Carolina, Michigan, Michigan, Georgia, and Mississippi all had increases between 54 and 73 percent.

"The government's moratorium bans foreclosures on government-backed loans for homeowners, and borrowers in the forbearance program are also protected from foreclosure actions," Sharga noted. "But loans on commercial properties, investment properties, and properties that are vacant and abandoned do not always have the same protections. This could be why we're seeing a slight increase in foreclosure starts despite the government programs."

Lenders repossessed 1,545 U.S. properties through completed foreclosures (REOs) in February 2021, up 8 percent from last month but still down 85 percent from last year.