Mortgage delinquency rate hits 5-year record low

TransUnion: Rate drops below 4%

The mortgage delinquency rate hit the lowest level in 5 years and dropped below 4% for the first time since 2008.

According to TransUnion’s latest mortgage delinquency report, the rate of borrowers 60 days of more delinquent on their mortgages ended the fourth quarter of 2013 at 3.85%.  

This is the eighth consecutive quarter of recorded declines, falling from 4.09% in the third quarter of 2013 and dropping more than 24% from one year earlier when it was 5.08%.

TransUnion gathered data from its proprietary Industry Insights Report, a quarterly overview summarizing data, trends and perspectives on the U.S. consumer lending industry.

But the good news is still a little murky.

“It’s encouraging to see the mortgage delinquency rate drop for two consecutive years, but at the same time, mortgage delinquencies continue to be twice as high as levels observed prior to the housing bubble,” said Steve Chaouki, head of financial services for TransUnion. 

“The housing market also still shows some volatility, with both housing prices and originations dropping in the latter part of 2013 after experiencing improvements in the first part of the year,” Chaouki said.

Every state and the District of Columbia witnessed a decrease in their mortgage delinquency rate between the fourth quarter of 2012 and 4Q13.

In addition, in every state except New Jersey and New York, those declines were in the double digits. 

Due to recent spikes in interest rates and tight lending standards, new account originations declined significantly in recent quarters, Chaouki explained.

As a result, TransUnion posted 52.84 million mortgage accounts as of Q4 2013, down from 53.85 million a year prior.

One bit worth noting is that while originations are retracting, the non-prime population (those consumers with a VantageScore 2.0 credit score lower than 700) saw an increase in their share of originations, climbing from 5.55% last year to 6.61% in Q3 2013.

However, the percentage of non-prime account originations remains well below those observed six years ago when it was at 16.26%.  

“Mortgage loans originated in the last few years have significantly higher credit quality than those originated prior to the recession, with delinquency rates that resemble those seen seven to 10 years ago,” said Chaouki. 

“As older mortgages continue to slowly exit the system, the industry will experience continued declines in mortgage overall delinquencies,” he added.

The company is predicting that the downward trend will continue into the first quarter of 2014, with mortgage delinquencies dropping to approximately 3.70% by the end of March. 

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