Mortgage delinquencies of at least 90 days rise to highest level in 10 years

Mortgage delinquencies of at least 90 days rise to highest level in 10 years
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The number of serious mortgage delinquencies rose to a 10-year high in July, according to a report released Friday by financial data firm Black Knight.

The number of homes with mortgage payments more than 90 days past due but not in foreclosure rose by 376,000 in July to a total of 2.25 million, according to Black Knight. Serious mortgage delinquencies are now at the highest level 10 years and have increased by 1.8 million since July 2019.

While the total number of delinquent mortgages dropped nearly 7 percent since June, the record rise of serious delinquencies is a troubling sign in the wake of the recent expiration of federal foreclosure and eviction protections.

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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted in March imposed a ban on foreclosures and evictions until July 31. The Trump administration and lawmakers failed to reach a deal to extend those protections after they expired, and an executive order issued by President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE to mitigate the damage may not be sufficient to protect all who are at risk of losing their homes, according to housing advocates.

The prospect of widespread foreclosures could pose a significant threat to the U.S. financial system, which has weathered the coronavirus recession with the help of unprecedented support from the Federal Reserve. 

If homeowners without jobs or their pre-pandemic earnings are unable to pay their mortgages, the wave of foreclosures could leave mortgage servicers on the hook for billions of dollars in payments owed to investors who hold bonds funded by those home loans. A similar crisis led to the housing market collapse and financial crisis that kicked off the Great Recession.

Even so, other slices of the housing market have boomed during pandemic. Sales of single-family homes, condominiums and co-ops rose 24.7 percent across the U.S. from June to July and 8.7 percent since July 2019, according to the National Association of Realtors, due in part to massive declines in interest rates and the rise of teleworking during the pandemic.