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State mortgage delinquencies fall below U.S. average

The delinquency rate on mortgage loans in Wisconsin fell to 6.46 percent in the first quarter, down from 7.96 percent in the fourth quarter, a survey released Wednesday by the Mortgage Bankers Association shows.

The delinquency rate on mortgage loans in Wisconsin fell to 6.46 percent in the first quarter, down from 7.96 percent in the fourth quarter, a survey released Wednesday by the Mortgage Bankers Association shows.

Although it appeared to be a positive trend, the group cautioned that delinquencies - loans on which at least one payment is overdue but not in foreclosure -- normally decrease between the fourth and first quarters.

Wisconsin's first-quarter delinquencies still were higher than the 5.75 percent level in the first quarter of 2009.

Nonetheless, Wisconsin homeowners are faring far better than people in many states and the country as a whole in staying current on mortgage payments. The national delinquency rate was 9.38 percent in this year's first quarter, which was down from 10.44 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The states with the highest overall delinquency rates were Nevada, 14.03 percent; Mississippi, 12.70 percent; and Georgia, 12.10 percent. Among the 50 states and District of Columbia, Wisconsin was 41st in delinquencies.

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Jay Brinkmann, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, said it is difficult to discern whether a fundamental improvement in mortgage loan delinquencies has occurred.

"If mortgage delinquencies are not yet clearly improving, it also appears they are not getting worse," Brinkmann said. "However, a bad situation that is not getting worse is still bad."

Copyright (c) 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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