The Mortgage Corner

Mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures continue to decline. According to Lender Processing Services (LPS), 6.08 percent of mortgages were delinquent in May, down from 6.21 percent in April, while 3.05 percent of mortgages were in the foreclosure process, down from 4.12 percent in May 2012.

This was the largest drop in delinquencies in 11 years, and gives a total of 9.13 percent delinquent or in foreclosure. It breaks down as:
• 1,708,000 properties that are 30 or more days, and less than 90 days past due, but not in foreclosure.
• 1,335,000 properties that are 90 or more days delinquent, but not in foreclosure.
• 1,525,000 loans in foreclosure process.

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Graph: Calculated Risk

Delinquencies are down more than 15 percent since the end of December 2012, coming in at 6.08 percent for the month. As LPS Applied Analytics Senior Vice President Herb Blecher explained, much of this improvement is supported by the fact that new problem loan are approaching the pre-crisis average.

“Though they are still approximately 1.4 times what they were, on average, during the 1995 to 2005 period, delinquencies have come down significantly from their January 2010 peak,” Blecher said. “In large part, this is due to the continuing decline in new problem loans — as fewer problem loans are coming into the system, the existing inventories are working their way through the pipeline. New problem loan rates are now at just 0.73 percent, which is right about on par with the annual averages during 2005 preceding.

It has to be why consumer spending is in effect soaring. Consumers were out in force in May as consumer credit rose a huge $19.6 billion. Revolving credit jumped $6.6 billion for the largest gain since May last year and the second largest of the recovery. The gain points to a jump in credit card use which, if extended, would be a big plus for retailers. It hasn’t increased at all for most of the year, until now.

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Graph: Econoday

Non-revolving credit also jumped in the month, up $13.0 billion for yet another outsized gain that reflects both strong car sales but also gains in the student loan component that are tied in part to ongoing government acquisitions of student loans from private lenders, acquisitions that do not necessary reflect current student borrowing.

So the wealth effect from more jobs and rising housing prices seems to be taking hold. That is why delinquencies have been declining, in the main. This is while the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showing some 3.828 million new job openings in June, and 4.4 million new jobs created.

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Graph: Econoday

Both hires and separations are oscillating upward with hires running a little higher than separations. In May, there were 4.441 million hires versus 4.395 million the month before. There were 4.323 million total separations in the month of May-slightly up from 4.287 million in April. The separations rate was 3.2 percent. Total separations include quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations.

Harlan Green © 2013

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