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Mortgages in foreclosure hit a 10-year low in first quarter

Reuters logo Reuters 5/16/2017 Richard Leong

The percentage of U.S. mortgages in the process of foreclosure at the end of the first quarter fell to its lowest level since the first quarter of 2007, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Tuesday.

The share of home loans in foreclosure was 1.39 percent in the first three months of 2017, down 14 basis points from the fourth quarter and 35 basis points lower than one year ago, the Washington-based industry group said.

“In addition, nearly all states had a decrease in the percentage of loans in foreclosure in the first quarter," MBA’s vice president of industry analysis Marina Walsh said in a statement.

Other measures on homeowners' creditworthiness generally improved in the first quarter, MBA said.

The delinquency rate for mortgages on one- to four-unit homes decreased to 4.71 percent in the first quarter, down 9 basis points from the fourth quarter and 6 basis points lower from a year earlier.

The percentage of loans on which foreclosure actions were started was 0.30 percent in the first quarter, up 2 basis points from the previous quarter, but down 5 basis points from one year ago. This was the first rise in foreclosure starts since the fourth quarter of 2014, MBA said.

The year-over-year declines in late payments and foreclosure actions on "conventional" mortgages that are guaranteed by Fannie Mae (FNMA.PK) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.PK) and ones backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA) stemmed from ongoing job growth and signs of rising wages, according to MBA.

"These fundamentals have helped to support the performance of all loan types – whether FHA, VA or conventional loans," Walsh said.

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