Equifax announced its latest National Consumer Credit Trends report on Monday, which showed that the total balance of first mortgages increased by 2.8 percent from last year. The report found the balance increase was the largest year-over-year increase since September of 2008.
The total balance of $7.97 trillion for first mortgages is the highest since December, 2011.
Delinquent first mortgages, or those mortgages that are 30 or more days past due, represent 5.65 percent of outstanding balances. Delinquent first mortgages decreased by more than 22 percent from last year.
The total balance of first mortgages 90-days past due or in foreclosure is less than $270 billion, a six year low and a 27 percent decrease from 2013.
"The decline in mortgage balances from accelerated amortization and foreclosure write-offs has finally been overcome by increases in mortgage debt due to home purchase lending," said Amy Crews Cutts, Equifax Chief Economist.
She added, "This trend should gain additional momentum as we head into the spring and summer home buying seasons, which increases the volume of new loans coming in, while at the same time rising home values and improving employment conditions should push down the incidence of mortgage defaults."
The report found, "For the first time in four years, the total balance of home finance debt ($8.58 trillion), which includes first mortgage and home equity, has increased year-over-year for three consecutive months."
The total limit of new credit in December, 2013 was $90.5 billion, a five-year high and a year-over-year increase of 15.7 percent—the highest in seven years.
New loans increased by 1.05 million in December, 2013, a five-year high and a year-over-year increase of 20.8 percent, a seven-year high.
"In February 2014, the total balance of home equity revolving loans is $485.3 billion, a decrease of 6.8% from same time a year ago and a five-year low. Similarly, the total number of loans outstanding in February is 10.3 million, the lowest total in 10 years," the report said.