According to real estate data firm RealtyTrac, foreclosures rose by 5.00 percent nationally in January. The report stated that 37,292 homes were repossessed, that’s a 15 month high with 119,888 still in some stage of foreclosure. Although states follow one of two foreclosure methods, judicial and non-AMP Issues on the Horizonjudicial, lenders must follow certain procedures with specific legal steps before a property can be foreclosed upon.

A borrower missing two payments in a row can expect to receive the first legal notice, the Notice of Default or a Lis Pendens. Both warn the borrowers via certified mail the past due amount and when it must be paid. With three missed payments in a row, lenders can formally file for a foreclosure. Still, overall foreclosure activity is down 4.00 percent from the same period last year.

What some analysts are gearing up for in 2015 is an uptick in foreclosures due to different factors. Many home equity loans, some of which removed all remaining equity in the property, are passing from the interest-only phase to a fully amortized payment. Interest only payments are lower than their fully amortized counterpart and borrowers may have difficulty meeting those payments. Yet home equity loans are second mortgages, subordinating to the first lien. If a second mortgage files for a foreclosure, the first mortgage would be paid off first, before the second lien lender is compensated.

Other mortgages may also see a bit of trouble, those underwritten to HAMP guidelines. The Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, provides short term relief to most borrowers, lowering the interest rate for a five year period then gradually rising to a higher one. It’s this process that can affect borrowers with HAMP loans, as there were nearly two million such loans that will face rising rates this year. Recall, five years ago was 2009, when the housing crisis really began to unravel.

The difference today is a recovering economy as well as property appreciation. Borrowers who need to get out from under a mortgage may now have enough equity to sell. Those who do not may find themselves negotiating with their lenders yet again.