The number of borrowers who stopped paying their home loans jumped by 1.6 million last month, according to data from Black Knight, a real estate analytics company.
The national mortgage delinquency rate rose to 6.45% in April, up from 3.06% in March. That’s three times the previous single-month record increase set in 2008 during the financial crisis. That crisis, you’ll remember, began in the mortgage sector.
Delinquencies in this case means homeowners didn’t make a mortgage payment in April, including those who are in forbearance plans agreed with their lenders. “During the last financial crisis, it took more than a year and a half before we saw the first 1.6 million homeowners fall past due on mortgages as a result. In the economic fallout from Covid-19, that many people became past due in April alone,” Andy Walden, economist and director of market research at Black Knight, told the New York Times. “Given that just 21% of the now 4.75 million homeowners in forbearance have made their May payments so far, this is a trend that is likely to continue.”
“When you think of the Great Recession, it really started in 2007, 2008, but delinquencies didn’t peak until 2010,” Marina Walsh, an economists with the Mortgage Bankers Association told the Times.
But, Walsh added, it is different this time in that home prices haven’t cratered. “It’s not as if all these homeowners are underwater and they had no incentive,” to make a mortgage payment, she said. “Here, there’s an incentive to make mortgage payments.”
The Mortgage Bankers Association, which releases its delinquency data quarterly, found that past-due mortgages rose to 4.36% in the first quarter after being at an all-time low of 3.77% in the fourth quarter of 2019.
The number of loans in forbearance is also increasing, according to the MBA. Their survey found that 4.1 million homeowners had requested a forbearance plan. That’s equal to 8.16% of loans. By comparison, less than 1 percent of loans were in forbearance in early March. Under the coronavirus rescue package, homeowners can suspend their mortgage payments if they have a federally backed mortgage.