Homeowners have done a remarkable job of getting and staying current on their mortgage loans in the past year, according to a new report from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), an indication of the improving health of the U.S. economy.
The OCC Mortgage Metrics Report found that in the 2015 first quarter, only 1.9 percent of all mortgages were 30 to 59 days late, 7.0 percent drop from the previous year. And seriously delinquent loans made an even dramatic fall, decreasing to just 2.6 percent of all loans, down 16.4 percent from the first quarter of 2014.
The number of foreclosures also recovered significantly in the latest year. The OCC report stated that there were 299,424 mortgages in the foreclosure process by the end of the first quarter, a30.8 percent decline. Overall those foreclosures made up 1.3 percent of all mortgages.
New foreclosures, those begun in the 2015 first quarter, fell to 83,058, sinking 8.6 percent from a year earlier. The number of completed foreclosures dropped to 38,509, a 31.5 percent decline from the 2014 first quarter.
Mortgage modifications and refinances accounted for some of the drop in foreclosures. The OCC reported that there were 188,816 home retention actions during the first quarter. That actually represented a large decrease – 20.6 percent – from the year before.
Fewer modifications were needed as rising home prices helped struggling homeowners regain equity and avoid foreclosure. A strengthened jobs market also helped borrowers have more income to stay current on their mortgages. As long as the economy continues to brighten, foreclosures and delinquencies will likely continue to fall.