Record number of homeowners fall behind on their mortgages

"Fundamental market factors" may be having a greater influence on the delinquency rates than is normally the case, but mathematical models have difficulty discerning the difference over a short period of time, according to MBA.

"The question is whether the drop represents anything more than a normal seasonal decline or a more fundamental improvement," said Brinkmann. 

“Since discerning what represents a fundamental improvement versus a simply seasonal improvement is probably more of an art than a mathematical science at this point, the seasonally adjusted numbers should be viewed with a degree of caution."

The delinquency rate includes loans that are at least one payment past due but does not include loans in the process of foreclosure. The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the first quarter was 4.63 percent, another record high.

The percentage of loans going in foreclosure was up 1.23 percent in the first quarter, but down 14 basis points from one year ago. 

Delinquency rates been falling as first-time claims for unemployment began declining in March 2009. As those new claims stopped decreasing earlier this year, delinquency rates also ceased dropping. 

Four states — Florida, Arizona, Nevada and California — have dominated national delinquency rates. While Florida's situation worsens, California is improving. But Washington, Maryland, Oregon and Georgia are showing the greatest overall increases in foreclosures started, compared with the fourth quarter of 2009. 

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