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Serious Delinquency Less Serious

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The rate of serious delinquency on first mortgages was down for the second month in a row, while past-due payments on second mortgages fell to the lowest level in at least three years.

At 2.02 percent, last month’s first-mortgage delinquency of at least 90 days was 6 basis points better than January. It was the second consecutive month that late payments retreated.

The improvement in serious delinquency was even more stark when compared to 2.45 percent in February 2011.

The statistics were outlined in the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices released Tuesday.

The findings were based on data submitted to Experian from 11,500 lenders on around $11 trillion in outstanding loans.

Past-due payments on second mortgages also improved, with the 90-day rate falling to 1.20 percent in February from 1.30 percent a month earlier. A year earlier, three-month delinquency on second mortgages was 1.46 percent.

The second-mortgage rate was the lowest it’s been in the three years the indices have been reported.

The report indicated that overall consumer delinquency, including bank cards and auto loans, improved to 2.09 percent from 2.16 percent and was also better than 2.54 percent during the same month last year.

“We appear to be resuming the downward trend in consumer default rates that began in the spring of 2009,” David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee for S&P Indices, said in the report. “With last month’s release we reported that the second half of 2011 saw a rise in consumer defaults, led by four consecutive monthly increases in first mortgage default rates. January and February’s combined reports shows broad based declines in all types of default rates, which is a good way to start the year.”

Among five of the largest metropolitan statistical areas tracked in the report, Miami’s 4.54 percent composite delinquency rate was the highest.

In Los Angeles, delinquency tumbled 49 BPS from January — the biggest improvement of any of the five MSAs. The rate landed at 1.87 percent.

Dallas was the only large city to see an increase, to 1.61 percent from 1.53 percent. Still, Dallas’ rate was the lowest among the five MSAs.

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