February 15, 2012 (Shirley Allen)

Mortgage delinquencies were on the rise across the nation for the second consecutive quarter according to TransUnion. The mortgage delinquency rate edged up to 6.01 percent at the end of the fourth quarter in 2011 from 5.88 in the previous quarter.

The mortgage delinquency rate increased in all but 13 states between the third and fourth quarters of this year. Sixty-four percent of the metropolitan areas posted an increase in delinquency rates, unchanged from the third quarter.

Despite the increase, the delinquency rate was still lower than in the fourth quarter of last year when the delinquency rate was 6.41 percent.

Tim Martin, group vice president of U.S. Housing in TransUnion’s financial services business unit, stated, “To see that, quarter over quarter, fewer homeowners were able to make their mortgage payments is not welcome news. However, it was not unexpected. First, there tends to be a natural seasonality, evident well before the recession, of higher delinquencies in the fourth quarter; perhaps explained by borrowers balancing holiday spending vs. debt payments. Secondly, on the economic front, house prices continued to deteriorate in the fourth quarter and unemployment remained stubbornly high. This combination leads to more negative equity in homes and reduced real personal income that can affect borrowers’ ability and willingness to pay their mortgages.

The state with the highest delinquency rate in the nation was Florida where 14.27 percent of the mortgages were delinquent, followed by Nevada at 12.08 percent and New Jersey at 8.32 percent. These three states were also the top three states in the third quarter.

The state with the lowest delinquency rate was North Dakota at 1.50 percent, followed by South Dakota at 2.45 percent and Nebraska at 2.57 percent. These were also the three states with the lowest delinquency rates in the third quarter.

The amount of mortgage debt per borrower declined slightly from the previous quarter and the previous year. The average mortgage debt per borrower in the fourth quarter was $188,194 compared to $190,382 in the third quarter and $189,046 in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Washington D.C. had the highest mortgage debt per borrower at $375,563, while borrowers in West Virginia had the lowest mortgage debt of $100,982.

Tags: TransUnion, mortgage delinquency rate, mortgage debt, mortgage payments, negative equity, price depreciation