The number of U.S. homeowners who fell behind on their mortgage payments climbed in the first quarter from an 18-year low at the end of 2018, while the share of mortgages at the start of foreclosure actions slipped, the Mortgage Bankers Association said.
The delinquency rate for mortgages on one-to-four-unit homes rose to 4.42% in the first three months of 2019, up from 4.06% at the end of the fourth quarter which was the lowest level since the first quarter of 2000, MBA said.
Last quarter's delinquency rate, however, was 21 basis points lower than a year earlier.
The percentage of loans on which foreclosure actions began fell to 0.23%, from 0.25% in the fourth quarter of 2018. It was 5 basis points lower than a year earlier.
"The national mortgage delinquency rate in the first quarter of 2019 was down on a year-over-year basis, which is another sign of a very strong economic environment, bolstered by low unemployment and rising wage growth,” Marina Walsh, MBA’s vice president of industry analysis said in a statement.
Meanwhile, mortgage applications decreased 0.6 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending May 10, 2019.
The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 0.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. The Refinance Index decreased 1 percent from the previous week.
"Purchase applications declined slightly last week but still remained almost 7 percent higher than a year ago," said Joel Kan, MBA's Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. "Despite the third straight decline in mortgage rates, refinance applications decreased for the fifth time in six weeks, albeit by less than 1 percent."
Added Kan, "It's worth watching if ongoing global trade disputes lead to increased anxiety about the economy, which could cause some potential homebuyers to put off their home search until the uncertainty is resolved."
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) decreased to 4.40 percent from 4.41 percent.
The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 3.78 percent from 3.81 percent.
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