US foreclosure crisis eases on revival in job market

Share of serious mortgage delinquencies falls to the lowest in six years while home prices rise

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2014, 5:05am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2014, 5:05am

The share of United States mortgages that are seriously in arrears fell to the lowest in six years as the job market improved, allowing borrowers to stay current on payments while higher home prices made it easier for others to sell.

Mortgages that were more than 90 days behind or in the foreclosure process dropped to 4.8 per cent of loans in the second quarter from 5.9 per cent a year earlier, the Mortgage Bankers Association said. That was the lowest rate since the second quarter of 2008, when it was 4.5 per cent.

The foreclosure crisis is fading in much of the country as the economy rebounds. Employers in the US added more than 200,000 workers for a sixth month in July and the jobless rate rose to 6.2 per cent as growing confidence prompted more Americans to look for work, Labour Department figures showed.

"We're well into resolution," said Michael Fratantoni, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington. "The stronger job market means fewer people are going delinquent at the beginning of the process. The stronger housing market means if someone becomes delinquent, they're able to sell the home before late-stage delinquency or the loan goes in the foreclosure process."

About 75 per cent of seriously delinquent loans were originated in 2007 and earlier, while mortgages from 2011 and later made up only about 6 per cent, the association said.

The share of loans on which foreclosure actions were started during the quarter fell to 0.4 per cent, the lowest since the second quarter of 2006. New Jersey had the highest rate of foreclosure starts, with 0.9 per cent of loans in the state.

Home prices nationwide have been rising as lower-cost distressed listings vanish from the market. Prices climbed 7.5 per cent in June, the 28th consecutive year-on-year increase, CoreLogic said.