The March Mortgage Monitor report released by Lender Processing Services Inc. (LPS) shows that foreclosure activity picked up during the month. As of the end of March, foreclosure inventory stood at an all-time high of 2.2 million while foreclosure starts increased by 33 percent since the end of February. Foreclosure sales increased significantly as well, suggesting that the halt in activity due to various moratoria may be passing.
Delinquencies continued to decline in March, dropping by more than 11 percent month-over-month (the lowest level since 2008), as more delinquent loans either cured or were moved into foreclosure. Delinquencies are down nearly 20 percent since this time last year.
Early-stage delinquencies have led the decline, as fewer problem loans enter the pipeline. In fact, 30-day and 60-day delinquent inventories are now approaching pre-crisis levels. It's important to note the impact of seasonality, as the first quarter of virtually every year shows a drop in new delinquencies, and historically March is consistently the month with the largest declines.
The report also found that mortgage origination activity continues to be dampened, primarily due to ongoing reduction in refinance activity. As interest rates rise and credit requirements remain more exacting, the majority of homeowners eligible to refinance may have already done so.
As reported in LPS' First Look release, other key results from LPS' latest Mortgage Monitor report include:
►Total U.S. loan delinquency rate (loans 30 or more days past due, but not in foreclosure): 7.78 percent
►Month-over-month change in delinquency rate: -11.6 percent
►Year-over-year change in delinquency rate: -19.4 percent
►Total U.S. foreclosure pre-sale inventory rate: 4.21 percent