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2010-02-26 11:42:28
Mortgage delinquencies down in U.S., Utah

 

The number of Utah and U.S. borrowers falling behind on their mortgage payments dropped sharply at the end of last year, a sign the foreclosure crisis is beginning to ebb.

The Mortgage Bankers Association on Friday said the percentage of Utahns who missed just one payment on their home loans fell to 3.2 percent in the October-through-December quarter. That's down from 3.5 percent in the third quarter.

Nationally, the percentage of borrowers who were 30 days behind dropped to 3.6 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 3.8 percent.

The declines were even more remarkable because delinquencies usually rise in the final months of the year. That's because of higher heating bills and holiday spending.

The improved late-payment trend is significant. It means those going into foreclosure will continue to decline this year, the trade group said.

'We are likely seeing the beginning of the end of the unprecedented wave of mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures that started with the sub-prime defaults in early 2007,' chief economist Jay Brinkmann said.

In Utah, slightly more than 13,900 loans were 30 days past due in the fourth quarter. Three months earlier, about 15,300 loans were delinquent.

Despite the positive quarter-to-quarter trend, the 30-day delinquency rate at year's end was actually higher than a year earlier. The percentage of borrowers who missed a payment in the last quarter of 2008 was 3 percent, almost a point lower than the U.S. rate of 3.9 percent.

Jeff Thredgold, an economist who consults for Zions Bank, said the year-over-year rise doesn't mean Utah is not following the national trend. Instead, it buttresses a common view that Utah entered the recession a year after the U.S. economic downturn began and will emerge sooner.

'Because we came into the recession later, our year-over-year comparisons would be a little less favorable, while the national housing market is a little further down the road in terms of stabilization,' he said.

'But Utah's economy is likely to bounce back a little quicker.'

There is still pain ahead. Nationally, more than 15 percent of homeowners with a mortgage have missed at least one payment or are in foreclosure, a record for the 10th straight quarter.

Moreover, the number of borrowers who were at least three months behind continues to soar. More than 5 percent of borrowers fell into that category in the fourth quarter, up from 4.4 percent in the third quarter.

In Utah, 11.9 percent of mortgage-holders were delinquent or in foreclosure during the fourth quarter. That's up slightly from 11.4 percent in the July-though-September period. A year earlier, 7.9 percent of borrowers were in those categories.

Foreclosures have been rising steadily in Utah, from 1.8 percent in the final months of 2008 to 3.3 percent a year later.

pbeebe@sltrib.com

The Associated Press contributed to this story

States with the highest, lowest foreclosure rates

Highest

Florida » 13.4 percent

Nevada » 9.8 percent

Arizona » 6.1 percent

New Jersey » 5.8 percent

Illinois » 5.6 percent

California » 5.6 percent

Ohio » 4.7 percent

Michigan » 4.6 percent

Hawaii » 4.5 percent

Maine » 4.4 percent

 

U.S. » 3.6 percent

Utah » 3.3 percent

 

Lowest

Virginia » 2.1 percent

Missouri » 2.1 percent

Arkansas » 2 percent

Nebraska » 2 percent

Texas » 2 percent

Montana » 1.8 percent

South Dakota » 1.8 percent

Wyoming » 1.6 percent

Alaska » 1.4 percent

North Dakota » 1.1 percent

Source: Mortgage Bankers Association

 
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