Mortgage delinquency rates in March dropped just a bit from last year's 4.4 percent, but the numbers (4.3 percent) were enough to make U.S. delinquency rates the lowest they've been in 11 years, according to the latest Loan Performance Insights Report by CoreLogic.
At the same time, delinquency foreclosure rates finished the month at 0.6 percent, which was also the lowest number since March of 2007.
Delinquency rates remained flat except for a slight drop at the most serious end of delinquency. The rate for early-stage delinquencies—30 to 59 days past due—was 1.7 percent in March, according to the report. The rate of mortgages that were 60 to 89 days past due in March was 0.6 percent. Both of those rates were identical a year ago.
The share of mortgages that transitioned from current to 30 days past due was 0.7 percent in March, essentially flat from last year. In January 2007, just before the start of the financial crisis, the current- to 30-day transition rate was 1.2 percent, while it peaked in November 2008 at 2 percent, CoreLogic reported.
Serious delinquency rates—loans more than 90 days past due, including loans in foreclosure—was 1.9 percent in March. That's a slight dip from the 2.1 percent it was last year. And, in a familiar refrain in the report, March's numbers in this category were the lowest they've been in 11 years.
Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, chalked up the numbers to a stable employment economy.
“Unemployment and lack of home equity are two factors that can lead to borrowers defaulting on their mortgages,” Nothaft said. “Unemployment is at the lowest level in 18 years, and for the first quarter, the CoreLogic Equity Report revealed record levels of home equity growth with equity per owner up $16,300 on average for the year ending March 2018.”
Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, however, poured a little cold water on the report, saying that the natural disasters common in summer—hurricanes, wildfires—do and will have an effect on default rates.
“Last year’s hurricanes and wildfires continue to affect today’s default rates,” Martell said. “Serious delinquency rates are more than double what they were before last autumn’s hurricanes in Houston, Texas, and Naples, Florida. The serious delinquency rates have also quadrupled in Puerto Rico.”
To read the full CoreLogic report, click here.