Experian: Severe Deliquencies Up 15 Percent in February

Severely delinquent mortgage accounts jumped 15 percent in February versus one year earlier, according to data released Wednesday by an Experian subsidiary — news that likely won’t surprise anyone actually in the industry. Experian said it defined “severely delinquent mortgage accounts” as charge-offs, short sales, foreclosures, repossession, collections, voluntary surrenders and bankruptcies — which, frankly, means it isn’t entirely clear exactly what is captured in the data and what isn’t. “Changes in the housing market have affected many homeowners across the nation, with consumers in some states showing a significant increase in severely delinquent mortgage accounts,” said Ty Taylor, group president of Experian Interactive. “Delinquent accounts can have a negative impact on a consumer’s credit score which could lead to higher interest rates when trying to refinance a current home loan, obtain a new loan or other lines of credit.” The national average credit score for those with a severely delinquent mortgage account was 599 in February 2008, compared to 605 in February 2007, Experian said. Conversely, the average credit score in February 2008 for those with a mortgage account with no delinquencies was 750. Severely delinquent borrowers weren’t just subprime, according to the credit bureau — they also owned owed an average mortgage balance of $131,699 in February, compared to $124,465 one year earlier. And is anyone surprised where the delinquencies are? California (12.4 percent of mortgage accounts are severely delinquent), Florida (8 percent of mortgage accounts are severely delinquent) and Texas (6.3 percent of mortgage accounts are severely delinquent). For Texas, the percentage of delinquent mortgages actually decreased year-over-year, dropping from 7.2 percent one year earlier. The Experian study comes on the heels of a separate report from competing bureau TransUnion, released Tuesday, which forecast a jump of 34 percent in mortgage delinquencies during 2008. Experian did not provide a similar forecast in its report. For more information, visit http://www.experian.com.

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