Fresh numbers call into question the sustainability of the recent drop in foreclosures.
But at least the second derivative is getting better.
NEW YORK (AP) — The good news is that the pace at which people fell behind on their mortgages slowed during the summer for the third quarter in a row. The bad news is the overall delinquency rate hit another record.
For the three months ended Sept. 30, 6.25 per cent of U.S. mortgage loans were 60 or more days past due, according to credit reporting agency TransUnion. That’s up 58 per cent, from 3.96 per cent, a year ago.
Being two months behind is considered a first step toward foreclosure, because it’s so hard to catch up with payments at that point.
The rate was up 7.6 per cent from the second quarter. That’s a much smaller jump than the 11.3 per cent rise in the second quarter from the first, and the 14 per cent leap seen in the quarter before that.
While the slowing growth rate is a positive sign, the increase shows there’s still a lot of problematic mortgages out there, said F.J. Guarrera, vice president of TransUnion’s financial services division. The company doesn’t expect the figure to start declining until the middle of 2010.
Two things must get better before mortgage delinquency rates start reversing themselves, he said: home values and unemployment. “Until we see improvement in both of those areas, it’s possible that it will take longer for delinquency to improve,” Guarrera said.
The statistics, which are culled from TransUnion’s database of 27 million consumer records, show that mortgage delinquencies remain highest in the four states where the crisis has hit the worst.
— In Nevada, the rate reached 14.5 per cent, up from 7.7 per cent a year ago.
— In Florida, the rate was 13.3 per cent, up from 7.8 per cent last year.
— In Arizona, the rate hit 10.4 per cent, up from 5.5 per cent in 2008.
— In California, the rate jumped to 10.2 per cent, from 5.8 per cent last year.
North Dakota remained the state where mortgage holders most often paid on time, with just 1.7 per cent delinquency, up from 1.4 per cent last year.
TransUnion expects delinquency to rise to just short of 7 per cent for the fourth quarter, compared with 4.6 per cent for the 2008 fourth quarter. The rate may reach 16 per cent in Nevada. Those states with the highest delinquency and foreclosure rates will likely continue to see depressed housing prices.
The average mortgage debt per borrower nationwide edged up to $193,121 in the third quarter, from $192,287 last year. The District of Columbia had the highest average mortgage debt per borrower at $359,788. The lowest average mortgage debt per borrower was in West Virginia at $97,265.
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