A record 9 percent of U.S. homeowners with a mortgage were either behind on payments or in foreclosure at the end of June. Washington state's troubled-loan rates remain low, although there are modest signs they are growing.
WASHINGTON — A record 9 percent of American homeowners with a mortgage were either behind on their payments or in foreclosure at the end of June, as damage from the housing crisis continues to mount, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said Friday.
Washington state’s late-payment and foreclosure activity remained low, however, although there are modest signs it’s growing.
According to the MBA, 3.38 percent of Washington’s home loans were experiencing late payments at the end of the second quarter, up from 2.98 percent earlier in the year.
The state’s percentage of home loans that started into foreclosure increased from 0.45 percent to 0.52 percent quarter over quarter.
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These numbers accounted for Washington’s low ranking: 45th in the nation in terms of delinquencies and 44th in foreclosures started.
In total, 1.04 percent of the state’s mortgages were in some stage of foreclosure at the end of June, up from 0.9 percent the previous quarter.
Nationally, the source of trouble in the mortgage market has shifted from subprime loans made to borrowers with poor credit to homeowners who had solid credit but took out exotic loans with ballooning monthly payments.
The problem is also concentrated in a handful of states, the worst being California and Florida. The real-estate markets in those two states were fueled by some of the riskiest lending practices and rampant speculation during the housing boom that has turned into a devastating bust.
“That’s clearly the problem,” said Jay Brinkmann, the association’s chief economist. “The national numbers are driven by the two largest states” with the most outstanding home loans.
The latest quarterly snapshot of the market broke records for late payments, homes entering the foreclosure process and for the inventory of loans in foreclosure. The trade group’s records go back to 1979.
The percentage of U.S. loans at least 30 days past due or in foreclosure was up from 8.1 percent in the January-March quarter, using figures that were not seasonally adjusted.
New foreclosures were concentrated in eight states: Nevada, Florida, California, Arizona, Michigan, Rhode Island, Indiana and Ohio.
But for the first time since the mortgage crisis started, delinquencies on subprime adjustable-rate loans declined. While more than one out of every five homeowners with a subprime ARM is still in default, that portion dipped 1 percentage point from the first quarter to 21 percent.
What’s driving the delinquency rate up is the number of homeowners with risky, adjustable-rate prime loans made with little or no proof of the borrowers’ income or assets.
Many of these loans allowed the borrower to pay only the interest on the loan for a fixed period. Others gave borrower the option to “pick a payment,” adding any unpaid interest to the principal balance.
More than one out of 10 borrowers with a prime adjustable-rate loan is now delinquent or in foreclosure. That portion, 11.3 percent, was up from 9.7 percent in the first quarter and is expected to continue to rise as more homeowners see their monthly payments spike.
Information from Seattle Times business reporter Elizabeth Rhodes is included in this report.