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Record One in 10 with Mortgage Trouble

Friday, 05 Dec 2008 10:32 AM

A record one in 10 American homeowners with a mortgage were either at least a month behind on their payments or in foreclosure at the end of September as the source of housing market pressure shifted to the crumbling U.S. economy.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said Friday the percentage of loans at least a month overdue or in foreclosure was up from 9.2 percent in the April-June quarter, and up from 7.3 percent a year earlier.

Distress in the home loan market started about two years ago as increasing numbers of adjustable-rate loans reset to higher interest rates. But the latest wave of delinquencies is coming from the surge in unemployment.

Employers slashed 533,000 jobs in November, the most in 34 years, catapulting the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.

"Now it's a case of job losses hitting more across the board," Jay Brinkmann, chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The U.S. tipped into recession last December, a panel of experts declared earlier this week. Since the start of the recession, the economy has lost 1.9 million jobs.

Job losses are already having an impact in rising delinquency rates for traditional 30-year fixed rate loans made to borrowers with strong credit. Total delinquencies on those loans rose to 3.35 percent in September from 3.07 percent at the end of June, the Mortgage Bankers Association said.

There were some modest signs of stabilization. The number of loans that entered the foreclosure process totaled 1.07 percent of all loans in the third quarter, flat from the second quarter.

Though that number likely reflects changes in state laws that delay or extend the foreclosure process and efforts to work out or modify loans that could still fall back into foreclosure.

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A record one in 10 American homeowners with a mortgage were either at least a month behind on their payments or in foreclosure at the end of September as the source of housing market pressure shifted to the crumbling U.S. economy.The Mortgage Bankers Association said Friday...
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