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The total balance of outstanding home loans fell by $1 trillion, or 10.4%, in the past four years as consumers continue to shed debt.
The latest numbers come from a report produced by Moody's Analytics and Equifax.
Even though mortgage rates are at historic lows, tight lending standards are stalling any recovery in home financing. In fact, the joint CreditForecast report says the prime loan segment now makes up 80% of all new mortgage originations.
Consumers, overall, are reducing their household debt with consumer balances dropping $187.8 billion from 2009 totals.
At the same time, the report noted increased solicitations for credit cards among consumers.
"After spending recent years in the financial doldrums, U.S. consumers are poised to make a comeback in 2012," said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts. "The most promise we have seen has primarily been within the consumer spending and auto financing sector, while the housing market continues to see incremental progress toward gaining traction in the coming months."
One area causing concern is student lending, which grew rapidly as the job market declined, suggesting more Americans were turning to colleges to gain new skills. Delinquency rates in the segment grew with more high-volume accounts ending up with two or more late payments.
Another area experiencing growth is auto sales with inquiries for loans edging upward.
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