Mortgage delinquencies down

Mitchell Hartman May 9, 2012

Stacey Vanek Smith: A bit of good news for a change on the housing front — the percentage of people behind on their mortgages is down. That’s according to a report out this morning from credit reporting agency TransUnion. Delinquencies in the first quarter of this year fell to their lowest level since 2009.

Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman reports.

Mitchell Hartman: TransUnion says 5.8 percent of mortgage holders were behind 60 days or more on their payments in the first quarter. That’s down from a high of 7 percent in 2009, after all those subprime and no-money-down mortgages went bad.

Delinquencies rose briefly at the end of last year — largely because people skimp on their mortgage payments to spend it up around the holidays. But the long-term trend is downward, says Paul Dales at Capital Economics.

Paul Dales: The economy is growing and the unemployment rate is coming down. And the unemployment rate is the single biggest determinant of whether someone is able to repay their mortgage payments or not.

Dales says it’ll take more job gains, though, to get the housing market anywhere near what was considered “normal” before the recession. Historically, delinquency rates have been below 2 percent.

I’m Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

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