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Sharp Increase in Seriously Delinquent Mortgages in 100 Largest Metro Areas Suggest More Foreclosures to Come

Foreclosure-Response.org Team Releases First Ever Delinquency and Foreclosure Rates for All 366 U.S. Metro Areas; Large Differences in Metropolitan Area Foreclosure Rates Revealed

Washington, DC (September 29, 2010) The Center for Housing Policy, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the Urban Institute have compiled and released the first data on seriously delinquent mortgages for all 366 U.S. metro areas. “Seriously delinquent” mortgages are those that are delinquent 90 days or more or are in the foreclosure process. An analysis of these data for the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas reveals a 32 percent increase over a one-year period in the share of mortgages that are seriously delinquent. In March 2010, more than one in ten mortgages (10.2 percent) in the 100 largest metropolitan areas was seriously delinquent – up from one in 13 mortgages (7.7 percent) in March 2009.

"These new delinquency data confirm that the number of foreclosures is likely to continue to rise," said Jeffrey Lubell, executive director of the Center for Housing Policy, the research affiliate of the National Housing Conference. "By providing the first available information on foreclosure and delinquency rates for all 366 U.S. metropolitan areas, the Foreclosure-Response.org team hopes to raise awareness of the continuing challenge of mortgage foreclosures and encourage policymakers and practitioners to use both time-tested and innovative solutions to help address this challenge.” The study ranks metropolitan areas by foreclosure and delinquency rates.

The severity and the trajectory of the problem vary dramatically across the nation. Among the 100 largest metropolitan areas, the Austin metro area had the lowest share of seriously delinquent mortgages in March 2010 (4.4 percent) while, at the other extreme, 26 percent of mortgages in the Miami metro area were seriously delinquent. Over the preceding year, the share of mortgages that were seriously delinquent in the Austin metro area increased by just 1.3 percentage points, as compared to an increase of 6.6 percentage points in the Miami metro area.

"The most rapid increases in mortgage delinquency occurred in metro areas where home prices are much higher than local incomes can afford " observed Tom Kingsley, senior fellow at the Urban Institute. "The other factors associated with rising delinquencies were declining employment, plunging home prices and higher densities of sub-prime lending in the peak period from 2004 to 2006."

According to a background paper prepared by Kingsley and Chris Walker of LISC and posted today on the Urban Institute’s MetroTrends website, when the foreclosure crisis began, metro areas in California were the hardest hit, with Florida, Arizona and Nevada close behind. Now, five of the six metro areas with the highest serious delinquency rates are in Florida (Miami, Orlando, Lakeland, Tampa and Bradenton). On average, more than one in five mortgages was seriously delinquent (21.2 percent) in these five Florida metro areas in March 2010, up 5 percentage points from the previous year. The top five California metro areas (Riverside, Stockton, Modesto, Bakersfield and Fresno) have an average delinquency rate of 16.6 percent, but their rate of increase has slowed considerably, up only 2.3 points over the year. The paper focuses on serious delinquencies in the 100 largest metropolitan areas.

Among the 100 largest metro areas, eight of the ten metro areas with the lowest rates of serious delinquency in March 2010 were in the nation's mid-section -- Austin, Madison, Omaha, Des Moines, San Antonio, Colorado Springs, Wichita and Tulsa; the other two were Raleigh and Lancaster. Rates for these ten ranged from 4.4 to 6.5 percent and annual increases were also much smaller, ranging from 1.3 to 1.9 points. "It is worth noting that even these levels are seriously problematic when considered in relation to decades of much lower delinquency rates prior to the start of the mortgage crisis in 2007," noted Kingsley.

"The data show the full extent of the foreclosure problem in metro areas nationwide," stated Chris Walker, research director of LISC, which calculated the information made public today on the Foreclosure-Response.org website. "This study ranks metropolitan areas by the overall rate of seriously delinquent mortgages, providing a better indicator of housing market stress since it looks at the full extent of the problem rather than just the number of foreclosures entering the pipeline,” Walker explained. The new data include the share of all mortgages in each metropolitan area that are seriously delinquent, the share that are in foreclosure, and the share that are 90 or more days delinquent. Breakdowns showing prime vs. sub-prime foreclosure rates are also provided.

More detailed information on the methodology and a complete ranking of metropolitan areas are available at: foreclosure-response.org

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