HELOC Delinquencies Rise in Q1, ABA Says
(Updated to reflect correction to ABA press statement) Continued stress in the housing market combined with general weakness in the overall economy contributed to an increase in the delinquency rates for home equity lines of credit and bank cards during the first quarter of 2008, according to a quarterly consumer credit report released Wednesday morning by the American Bankers Association. The percentage of HELOC accounts that were more than 30 days past due rose 14 basis points to 1.10 percent during the first quarter on a seasonally-adjusted basis -- the sixth straight quarterly jump in HELOC delinquencies, and the highest since the first quarter of 1997. The 14bp jump is the highest linked-quarter jump in HELOC delinquencies since the ABA began keeping records in 1987. While well above the 0.6 percent in delinquencies reported one year earlier, it's worth noting that the HELOC delinquency rate in the first quarter still remained lower than all other consumer credit categories. For example, bank card delinquencies rose 13 basis points to 4.51 percent during Q1, the ABA said. ABA chief economist James Chessen said that more consumers are having trouble meeting their obligations because of the confluence of anemic personal income growth, falling home equity and stock values, job losses, and rising food and energy prices. "It was a tough quarter for some people," Chessen said. "Faced with rising food and gas prices and little income growth, fewer resources have been available to manage debt." Prospects for the second quarter probably didn't improve from the first quarter results released today, HW's sources suggested; as we begin the third quarter, various consumer indicators have already painted an increasingly glum picture of the so-called "real economy" since April, and banks have become increasingly aggressive in reeling in their HELOC exposure, suggesting further deterioration in performance. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. went so far on Tuesday as to warn banks on exisiting Truth in Lending regulations surrounding freezing credit lines or reducing available credit tied to home equity. Despite weakness in HELOCs, home equity loans actually saw a slight decrease in 30-day delinquencies, according to ABA statistics, falling 5 basis points to 2.34 percent in the first quarter. That's 19 basis points above last year's 2.15 percent, but still well below the 2.84 percent delinquency rate for HELs recorded at the height of the housing boom, in the third quarter of 2004. For more information, visit http://www.aba.com.