The national mortgage delinquency rate hit its lowest point since 2009, according to information reported by TransUnion (TRUN) Wednesday morning. After declining for the first three months of 2012, the rate is now 5.78%.
The improvement ends two quarters of increases that began in Q3 2011. Prior to that time, 60-day mortgage delinquency rates had dropped for six consecutive quarters.
Between fourth quarter 2011 and first quarter 2012, all but eight states saw decreases in their mortgage delinquency rates. Additionally, 73% of metropolitan areas also saw improvement in Q1 2012, up from the prior two periods when only 36% saw improvement.
"To see that quarter over quarter, and year over year, more homeowners were able to make their mortgage payments is certainly welcome news," said Tim Martin, group vice president of U.S. Housing in TransUnion's financial services business unit. "Before this, we saw two quarters of delinquency increases and while we are still about three-times above the pre-recession norm, this should mark the start of consistent improvement each quarter."
Though house prices are continuing to slide and unemployment remains high, modest economic improvement leads TransUnion to predict downward mortgage delinquency rates as more homeowners become able to repay their mortgage debt obligations.
"We have seen increased traction of refinance activity related to HARP 2.0, a program that makes it easier for homeowners with negative equity in their home to refinance," said Martin. "Going forward, as these homeowners take advantage of the historic low mortgage interest rates, and perhaps lower their monthly payment in the process, it may have some positive impact on the overall delinquency rate starting later this year."