The national mortgage delinquency rate increased for only the second time since the end of 2009, edging upward to 6.01% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2011, according to new data from TransUnion.
Between the third and fourth quarters of 2011, all but 13 states experienced increases in their mortgage delinquency rates. Sixty-four percent of metropolitan areas saw increases in their mortgage delinquency rates in the fourth quarter – the same percentage as found in the third quarter, but up from the 21% level in the second quarter.
‘To see that, quarter over quarter, fewer homeowners were able to make their mortgage payments is not welcome news,’ says Tim Martin, group vice president of U.S. housing in TransUnion's financial services business unit. ‘However, it was not unexpected. First, there tends to be a natural seasonality, evident well before the recession, of higher delinquencies in the fourth quarter; perhaps explained by borrowers balancing holiday spending versus debt payments.
‘Secondly,’ Martin continues, ‘on the economic front, house prices continued to deteriorate in the fourth quarter, and unemployment remained stubbornly high. This combination leads to more negative equity in homes and reduced real personal income that can affect borrowers' ability and willingness to pay their mortgages.’
According to TransUnion, Florida had the highest fourth-quarter delinquency rate with 14.2%, followed by Nevada with 12%, New Jersey with 8.32% and Arizona with 7.5%. On the flip side, North Dakota had the lowest delinquency rate with 1.5%, followed by South Dakota with 2.45%, Nebraska with 2.57% and Alaska with 2.77%.
In ranking on mortgage debt, the District of Columbia led the nation with a fourth-quarter average of $375,563. West Virginia had the lowest average mortgage debt, with $100,982.