Late mortgage payments on the rise

Late mortgage payments increased slightly in the second quarter. The percentage of Americans making late mortgage payments is nearly eight times the normal rate.

By , AP Economics Writer

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    Kencel Louisius is a homeowner looking for a loan modification at Hope Now, a voluntary private sector alliance of various organizations, to help homeowners facing foreclosure at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach last week. The percentage of homeowners making late mortgage payments increased slightly between the first and second quarters, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Aug. 22, 2011.
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The number of Americans at risk of foreclosure is rising, reflecting the U.S. economy's continued struggles.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said Monday that 8.44 percent of homeowners missed at least one mortgage payment in the April-June quarter. That figure, which is adjusted for seasonal factors, rose 0.12 percentage point from the January-March period.

In a normal market, the percentage of delinquent borrowers is about 1.1 percent, according to the trade group.

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Delinquent mortgages have plummeted from a record high of more than 10 percent of residential mortgages a year ago. But the decline is due partly to delays in foreclosure filings that are backlogged in several state courts, including Florida, New Jersey, Illinois and New York.

The end of a state and federal investigation into faulty foreclosure paperwork will likely lead to increased foreclosures later this year.

Analysts say the increase is especially worrisome because it's due mainly to high unemployment, which tends to raise the number of missed payments and foreclosures over time. And once delayed foreclosures are re-started, the economy could suffer a hit.

"The current processing delays mean this will not happen quickly, underlining our view that both the housing market and the economy will remain weak for a few years," said Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

The quarterly survey covers nearly 88 percent of primary residential mortgages totaling nearly 44 million loans.

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