Ninety percent of all mortgages handled by servicing firms remained current at the end of the first quarter, an improvement from 88.9% a year earlier, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency said Thursday.

The loan portfolio surveyed by the OCC includes all first-lien residential mortgages serviced by national banks and a federal savings association.

The overall takeaway from the report: the number of seriously delinquent or in-foreclosure mortgages fell from last year as banks implemented  home retention tools and offered forbearance plans for homeowners impacted by severe weather situations.

Strengthening economic conditions and loan servicing transfers also improved outcomes for distressed homeowners, with high-touch servicers taking over many of the troubled loans.

The regulator’s data on mortgages covers 55% of the U.S. mortgage market.

The percentage of these loans past due for 30-to-59 days hit 2.6% in 1Q, down 9.3% from the previous quarter, but still up 3% from a year ago.

In addition, the percentage of first-lien loans considered seriously delinquent or held by bankrupt borrowers fell to 4%, compared with a rate of 4.5% last year.

Loans in some stage of foreclosure also plummeted 28.6% from a year ago with 907,231 mortgages classified in this category during 1Q.

In addition, the number of completed foreclosures declined 19.7% from the prior quarter, reaching 84,972 finalized actions—a steep 30.9% drop from a year ago.

Still, there is room for concern when comparing first and fourth-quarter data.

In 1Q, servicers launched 178,356 foreclosures, a 13.8% increase from the fourth quarter and a 37.8% decline from a year ago. Year-over-year servicers saw improvement, but foreclosure initiations ticked up again between the fourth quarter of 2012 and 1Q of 2013.

Servicers studied by the OCC launched 348,733 home retention actions and 131,704 home forfeitures in the first part of the year.

With financial firms spending the past several years working on loan modification programs, the OCC is now able to gauge how successful a home retention plan is long-term.

Servicers modified more than 3 million mortgages from 2008 through 2012. By the end of the most recent first quarter, 49.5% of the modified loans remained current or were paid off.

Another 6.4% were 30-to-59 days late and 12.4% remained seriously delinquent. About 7.3% of the modified mortgages were in some stage of the foreclosure process and another 7.4% had already gone through foreclosure.

The full report is available here.

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