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Delinquencies Hit Lowest Rate Since Start of Pandemic

The mortgage loan delinquency rate for March 2021 reportedly hit its lowest since March one year prior, when side effects of the global pandemic were just starting to drag down the U.S. economy.

March was a month that included the third round of government stimulus checks and the extension of forbearance programs, which, taken together, may have helped borrowers stay current on their mortgage loans, say the property-data pros at CoreLogic, which Tuesday published its monthly Loan Performance Insights Report.

The researchers' latest study covers this past March. It showed a total of 4.9% of all mortgages in some stage of delinquency. The previous March, 2020, delinquencies hit 3.6% and shot up over the ensuing months.

CoreLogic's economists see several factors at play—including an improving jobs situation—while analyzing the data.

“U.S. overall mortgage delinquency lessened significantly from February to March, and rates for nearly every other stage of delinquency were down compared to a year ago,” said Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic. “Homeowners are catching up on their debt as the economic effects of the pandemic begin to wane, which is yet another sign of forward motion on the road to overall recovery.”

Chief Economist Frank Nothaft also weighed in.

“Many forces came together in March to yield the largest one-month improvement in the overall delinquency rate since the pandemic started,” Nothaft said. “In addition to continued government support, including stimulus payments and mortgage forbearance programs, the U.S. economy added 770,000 jobs in March, the largest increase since August of 2020.”

Mortgage loan delinquency data is important to understanding the overall health of the mortgage market, note researchers at CoreLogic.

Broken down by stages, early (30-59 days) delinquencies sat at 1%, down from 1.9% the previous year.

The share of mortgages 60 to 89 days past due was 0.4%, down from 0.6% in March 2020.

The serious delinquency rate—defined as 90 days or more past due, including loans in foreclosure—was 3.5%, up from 1.2% in March 2020.

Due to state and federal foreclosure moratoria still in place, the foreclosure inventory rate remains low at 0.3%, down from 0.4% in March 2020.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently has taken several actions to help prevent a wave of foreclosures and to help prepare servicers dealing with record-level delinquency numbers.

Said CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio last month, “More borrowers are behind on their mortgage than at any time since the height of the Great Recession ... the latest data show that many borrowers are still hurting. The CFPB will continue to seek and actively respond to developments in the market, doing everything in our power to help families stay in their homes.”

One CFPB rule under consideration would temporarily require servicers to enhance communications with borrowers who are delinquent or in forbearance, allow servicers to offer certain streamlined loan modification options to borrowers with COVID-19-related hardships, and require servicers to afford all borrowers a special pre-foreclosure review period. More information is available at consumerfinance.gov.

The full loan performance report for March 2021 is available at CoreLogic.com.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. Contact Christina at christina.hughesbabb@thefivestar.com.
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