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New Numbers: One in Eight US Households Behind in Mortgage Payments or in Foreclosure

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Posted on 05 Mar 2009

The Mortgage Bankers Association said today that a record one in every eight U.S. households ended 2008 behind on their mortgage payments or in the foreclosure process as job losses intensified a housing crisis spawned by lax lending practices.

With unemployment at a 16-1/2-year high and rising, more borrowers will be late paying or fall into foreclosure this year, said the group's chief economist Jay Brinkmann.

"While California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan continue to dominate the delinquency numbers, some of the sharpest increases we saw last quarter in loans 90 days or more delinquent were in Louisiana, New York, Georgia, Texas and Mississippi, signs of the spreading impact of the recession," he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama's $275 billion housing stimulus program will standardize modifications for distressed loans and pave the way for more refinancing.

That should smooth differences caused by various moratoria by states and companies that temporarily curbed the surge in foreclosures in the fourth quarter, Brinkmann said.

"But keep in mind that there are three drivers to the housing problem, and this program of course addresses mostly the first one," relating to loan structure, underwriting quality and fraud, Brinkmann said.

The two other problems still loom large—an oversupply caused by overbuilding and foreclosures, and unemployment.


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