For the second month in a row, a decline in new defaults significantly offset a rise in foreclosures.
During December, mortgage delinquency of at least 30 days, including foreclosures, came in at 12.98 percent, Lender Processing Services Inc. reported in a preview of its full performance statistics report.
The default rate declined from 13.10 percent in November. It was the second consecutive month of improvements.
In the final month of 2009, the rate was around 14.56 percent.
Last month’s highest delinquency rates were in Florida, Nevada, Mississippi, Georgia and New Jersey.
The lowest rates of default were in Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota and North Dakota.
LPS said that its statistics are derived from its loan-level database of nearly 40 million mortgage loans.
The December U.S. rate reflected an 8.83 percent 30-day rate excluding foreclosures, falling from prior month’s 9.02 percent. The latest figure was based on 4,674,000 delinquent loans.
The default rate has fallen considerably from around 10.76 percent in the final month of 2009.
But the foreclosure rate continued to rise — to 4.15 percent last month from 4.08 percent in November. December’s rate reflected 2,196,000 loans in foreclosure or pre-sale inventory.
At the end of 2009, the foreclosure rate was around 3.80 percent.