The ""Federal Housing Administration"":http://www.fha.gov (FHA) has taken a lot of heat lately for the growing number of delinquencies in its portfolio. But new data released this week shows that the agency is making significant strides in this area.
[IMAGE] According to FHA's ""March operations report"":http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/comp/rpts/ooe/olcurr.pdf, loans that are 90 days of more past due dropped to 8.8 percent at the end of last month Ã¢â‚¬" down from 9.2 percent in February.
The March rate equates to 536,858 mortgages in arrears. In February, the agency counted 553,929 mortgages that were in seriously delinquent status.
While the short-term improvement is notable considering delinquencies industry-wide are still climbing, FHAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s past[COLUMN_BREAK]
due loans last month are still 1.7 points higher than the 7.7 percent delinquency rate recorded by the federal insurer in March 2009.
So far this fiscal year, FHA has paid 129,503 claims -- 75,466 of which were loss mitigation retention claims, and 47,458 were claims for property conveyances.
Buyer demand for government-backed mortgages has yet to wane. FHA said its annual application rate jumped 18.3 percent in March. The agency attributed the surge to prospective mortgagors racing to beat the planned increase in FHAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s upfront mortgage insurance premium Ã¢â‚¬" from 1.75 to 2.25 percent Ã¢â‚¬" which took effect April 5.
FHA received a total of 246,406 applications in March, up from 165,239 the previous month. This included 163,467 purchase cases, 75,541 refinances, and 7,398 reverse mortgages. Fifty-four of the refinance applications submitted to the federal agency were Hope for Homeowners (H4H) cases.
During the month of March, FHA insured 132,301 single-family mortgages for $24.1 billion, bringing the federal insurerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s total mortgages in force to 6,114,452 with a scheduled aggregate outstanding balance of $805.6 billion.