According to CoreLogic's latest monthly Loan Performance Insights Report, nationally, 3.8% of U.S. mortgages were in some stage of delinquency (30 days or more past due, including those in foreclosure) in July 2019, representing a 0.3 percentage point decline in the overall delinquency rate compared with July 2018, when it was 4.1%.
As of July 2019, the foreclosure inventory rate - which measures the share of mortgages in some stage of the foreclosure process - was 0.4%, down 0.1 percentage points from July 2018. The July 2019 foreclosure inventory rate tied the prior eight months as the lowest for any month since at least January 1999.
Measuring early-stage delinquency rates is important for analyzing the health of the mortgage market. To monitor mortgage performance comprehensively, CoreLogic examines all stages of delinquency, as well as transition rates, which indicate the percentage of mortgages moving from one stage of delinquency to the next.
The rate for early-stage delinquencies - defined as 30 to 59 days past due - was 1.8% in July 2019, down from 1.9% in July 2018. The share of mortgages 60 to 89 days past due in July 2019 was 0.6%, unchanged from July 2018. The serious delinquency rate - defined as 90 days or more past due, including loans in foreclosure - was 1.3% in July 2019, down from 1.6% in July 2018. This July's serious delinquency rate of 1.3% was the lowest for the month of July since 2005 when it was also 1.3%; it tied the April, May and June 2019 rates as the lowest for any month since it was also 1.3% in August 2005.
Since early-stage delinquencies can be volatile, CoreLogic also analyzes transition rates. The share of mortgages that transitioned from current to 30 days past due was 0.8% in July 2019, unchanged from July 2018. By comparison, in January 2007, just before the start of the financial crisis, the current-to-30-day transition rate was 1.2%, while it peaked at 2% in November 2008.
"Homeowners have seen a big rise in home equity, which lowers foreclosure risk because owners have more 'skin in the game,'" said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. "Our latest Home Equity report found that between the first quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of 2019, average equity per borrower increased from $75,000 to $176,000 and rose $5,000 in the past year alone."
The nation's overall delinquency remains near the lowest level since at least 1999. However, four states posted small annual increases in overall delinquency rates in July: Vermont (0.5 percentage points), New Hampshire (0.2 percentage points), Iowa (0.1 percentage points) and Minnesota (0.1 percentage points).
Five states, including three of the four listed above, posted small annual gains in the share of mortgages that transitioned from current-to-30-days past due in July: Vermont (0.3 percentage points), New Hampshire (0.1 percentage points), Iowa (0.1 percentage points), Wisconsin (0.1 percentage points) and Florida (0.1 percentage points).
In July 2019, 37 metropolitan areas recorded small increases in overall delinquency rates. Some of the highest gains were in the Midwest and Southeast. Metros with the largest increases were Dubuque, Iowa (2.5 percentage points), Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Illinois (1.5 percentage points) and Pine Bluff, Arkansas (1.1 percentage points). Panama City, Florida, and Goldsboro, North Carolina, both experienced increases of 0.5 percentage points.
"The fundamentals of the housing market remain very solid with foreclosure rates hitting lows not seen in over 20 years," said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "We expect foreclosure rates may very well drift even lower in the months ahead as wage growth and lower mortgage rates provide support for homeownership."