Mortgage Default Rates Lower as Consumers Choose Property Over Plastic
The monthly default rates for first and second mortgages fell in April, but climbed for bank card loans for the third consecutive month, according to the latest data from credit-rating agency Standard & Poor's and national credit bureau Experian. Defaulting balances of bank card loans rose to 9.1% in April, from 8.9% in March and from 7.7% a year earlier, according to S&P. First and second mortgage default rates slipped to 3.7% and 2.5%, respectively down 6% and 11% from March levels. At the same time, the share of borrowers delinquent on credit cards but current on their mortgages slipped to 3.6% from 4.1%. “Consumer defaults continue to moderate in the key big ticket items of first and second mortgages and auto loans," said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Indices. "In these areas, defaults bottomed out around the same time as the stock market in the first half of 2009. Bank cards on the other hand continue to worsen and are at levels not seen in the history of these indices.” Blitzer added: “With attention focused on consumer spending and little hope for a fast rebound in housing, the bank card series may raise concerns for many consumer related businesses as well as for consumer oriented lending institutions.” The S&P/Experian default index for first mortgages fell 6.2% from last month and 31.1% from the same time last year, while that of second mortgages posted similar declines of 11% and 45.4%. At the same time, however, the default index for credit cards grew 2.4% from last month and 19.3% from last year. It marks a reversal of recent trends of borrowers paying down credit cards before mortgages, as seen by national credit bureau TransUnion. The share of borrowers delinquent on their mortgages but current on credit cards rose to 6.6% as of Q309 (from 4.3% in Q108), TransUnion said in February. According to the S&P/Experian indices, consumer credit defaults vary across major cities and regions of the US. Among the five major Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) studied for the April report, Chicago showed the smallest decrease of 5.8% in the past year. The sharpest decline was in Miami where defaults declined 40.5% in the last 12 months and 7.9% in the past month. “Regional variations in default rates are typical,” Blitzer said. "The sharp declines in Los Angeles and Miami reflect a somewhat more stable, though still weak, housing market as well as some overall economic improvements seen in recent months." Write to Diana Golobay.