Smart Borrower Blog

Mortgage Delinquencies Grow in First Quarter, Still Near Record Lows

May 29th, 2019 @ 2:29 PM by Amber Nelson

Americans fell behind on their mortgage loans at a slightly higher rate in the first quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, but rates remained near all-time lows.

The delinquency rate climbed to 4.42% in the first quarter of 2019, up from the 18-year low of 4.06% in the previous quarter, but still down from 4.63% from the 2018 first quarter. The new rate is the fourth-lowest on record.

Loans that were in serios delinquencies – those past due by 90 days or more – made up 1.96% of all loans, a decrease to the lowest level in almost 13 years.

Foreclosure numbers also improved. Only 0.23% of loans were newly in foreclosure in the first quarter, down from 0.25% in the 2018 fourth quarter and 0.28% from a year earlier. Foreclosure inventory – the share of all loans in foreclosure – fell to 0.92%, the lowest rate in roughly 24 years.

“The national mortgage delinquency rate in the first quarter of 2019 was down on a year-over-year basis, which is another sign of a very strong economic environment, bolstered by low unemployment and rising wage growth,” said Marina Walsh, MBA’s vice president of industry analysis.

As of April, the unemployment rate was down to 3.6%, a low not seen since the late 1960s. Recent job gains have been in health care, construction, professional and business services and social assistance.

And wages have been increasing slowly but surely as well. In a speech last week, Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard explained, “Employment rates of adults in their prime working years have been rising steadily during the expansion and recently reached their pre-recession peak. Importantly, wage growth has begun to pick up after years of slow gains.”

The combination of higher incomes, low unemployment and tighter mortgage standards has helped push mortgage delinquencies down and the trend is on track to continue for the foreseeable future.

About Amber Nelson
Amber Nelson is a seasoned mortgage industry writer and a regular contributor to and

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