The mortgage delinquency rate fell last month in the U.S., along with the total number of delinquent mortgages, says a report by a leading lender processor.
The study by Lender Processing Services
found that 6,082,000 mortgages in the U.S. were late by at least 30 days or were in a state of foreclosure, compared to 6,167,000 in December of 2011
, about a 1.4 percent drop. The LPS report also shows a drop in the year-over-year January delinquency rate -- which excludes homes in foreclosure -- and a slight rise in the month-over-month foreclosure inventory. Both are signs of a recovering economy and subsiding government action against mortgage servicers, experts say.
The total U.S. loan delinquency rate -- which refers to loans of 30 days or more past due, but not loans in foreclosure -- was 7.97 percent, LPS says. That represents a 10.5 percent year-over-year drop from 2011, and a 2.2 percent month-over-month drop from December of 2011. The LPS report examines the just-under 40 million mortgages registered in its loan database.
The fall in the national delinquency rate coincides with a survey released earlier this month by the Mortgage Bankers Association that found delinquencies
dropped in the last quarter of 2011.
"Mortgage performance continued to improve in the fourth quarter, reflecting the improvement we saw in the job market and broader economy," Jay Brinkmann, chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association, told MortgageOrb.com.
Also finding that the foreclosure pre-sale inventory increased month-over-month by 1.1 percent, the LPS report seems to substantiate analyses that suggest that -- even as fewer homes are entering a foreclosure danger zone -- foreclosures that government action had previously stalled are now resuming, in the wake of a recently announced $25 billion settlement.
'We continue to see signs on a local and regional level that the frozen-up foreclosure process is beginning to thaw," Brandon Moore, CEO of online foreclosure marketplace RealtyTrac said in a statement
earlier this month.
The rise in foreclosures could accelerate, Moore and other experts say, since the nation's five major servicers and state attorneys general recently settled a $25 billion investigation into illegal foreclosures. During the settlement negotiations, many of the servicers delayed moving forward with foreclosures, wanting to keep a low profile in the face of government scrutiny, experts say. Mortgage servicers
like LPS, which handle appraisals, titles and closings, have been among those under investigation for "robo-signing,"
or falsifying signatures on foreclosures and other real estate documents.
The states with the highest percentages of delinquencies and foreclosures combined were Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and Illinois, while the states with the lowest percentages of delinquencies and foreclosures combined were Montana, Arkansas, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota.
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