Serious Mortgage Delinquency Rate on the Downswing

Serious mortgage delinquencies for single-family homes and condominium units have been on a steady decline for the last 18 months.

Washington, D.C.—Serious mortgage delinquencies have been on a steady decline for the last 18 months, according to a recently released study by, a joint project of the Local Initiatives Support Corp., the Urban Institute and the Center for Housing Policy. Surveying mortgages on single-family homes and condominium units in the 100 largest metropolitan markets in the country, the report concludes that the serious mortgage delinquency rate has decreased from a high of 10.4 percent in December 2009 to 9.3 percent in June 2011.

Seriously delinquent loans are defined as loans in foreclosure and loans that are delinquent 90 or more days. The positive change in serious mortgage delinquencies can be attributed predominantly to a drop in delinquent loans, from 5.5 percent to 3.7 percent, during the aforementioned period.

Foreclosures, however, impeded greater progress. The average foreclosure rate held steady at 5.5 percent for the three quarters ending in June. While the California cities of Riverside and Stockton experienced the greatest improvement with respective rate decreases of 1.9 and 1.7 percent, the State of Florida continued to suffer, with the foreclosure rate continuing a consistent climb. In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area, the serious delinquency rate rose to 23.5 percent. The sky-high figure, however, is put into perspective when taking into consideration the fact that Florida—along with New York and Illinois, which also recorded rate increase—-mandates judicial foreclosure proceedings for final foreclosure approvals, which can delay the process.

Overall, the news regarding the serious mortgage delinquency rate is good, but with foreclosures dragging down the numbers, it is not good enough. “The foreclosure inventory that is building up is going to take an incredibly long time for lenders to clear,” Leah Hendey, a research associate with the Urban Institute, noted in a prepared statement. “At the current pace of foreclosure sales, we are looking at a process that could take decades to complete. It is critical that the status of these properties be resolved quickly if we want to stabilize communities and housing markets.”