LOS ANGELES – Fewer U.S. homeowners are falling behind on their mortgage payments, a trend that has reduced the late-payment rate on home loans to the lowest level in six years, according to credit reporting agency TransUnion.
The percentage of mortgage holders at least two months behind on their payments fell in the April-June period to 3.46 percent, down from 4.32 percent a year earlier, the firm said Wednesday.
The latest mortgage delinquency rate was down from the first quarter of this year, when it stood at 3.61 percent.
The last time the rate was lower was the first quarter of 2008, when it was 3.39 percent, according to TransUnion. The firm's records go back to the second quarter of 2007.
The mortgage delinquency rate has been steadily declining over the past two years. At the same time, U.S. home sales and prices have been rebounding while foreclosures have been declining.
Homeowners have seen their finances boosted by rising home values, an improving job market and efforts to restructure home loans so they're more affordable. That has enabled them to make timely payments.
In addition, many of the risky home loans made before 2008 that went unpaid are no longer a factor, because the homes have been sold or foreclosed upon. Loans issued since then, after banks tightened lending standards, are less likely to go unpaid.
That has helped drive lower late-payment rates among younger borrowers.
The mortgage delinquency rate for borrowers under 30 was 2.34 percent in the second quarter, the lowest of any age group. They also accounted for the smallest slice of borrowers with a home loan at 4.2 percent, according to TransUnion.
By age group, borrowers ages 40-49 had the highest late-payment rate at 4.43 percent. They made up about a quarter of all borrowers with a mortgage.
Meanwhile, the number of new home loans issued by lenders tumbled in the first three months of the year by 51 percent to 1.1 million, TransUnion said.
The steep decline came as higher interest rates led fewer borrowers to refinance their existing mortgages and a bitterly cold winter prompted would-be homebuyers to put off their home purchase.
The data on new home loans lag by a quarter, so the latest TransUnion figures cover the January-March period.