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New Foreclosures at Record High

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RISMEDIA, March 14, 2007-(MarketWatch)-Many more U.S. homeowners were unable to keep up with their mortgage payments in the fourth quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Tuesday, with the rate of homes entering the foreclosure process hitting a record 0.54% and the delinquency rate on U.S. home loans leaping to 4.95% from 4.67% three months earlier.

"Although the U.S. economy and job market remain solid, the housing market continued to decelerate in the fourth quarter of 2006. Nationally, house prices increased at a slower rate and the pace of sales and construction activity continued to slow," said Doug Duncan, MBA's chief economist.

The rise was led by subprime mortgages, where delinquencies increased to 13.33% from 12.56%, and FHA loans, which saw a record-high delinquency rate of 13.46%. Trouble in subprime mortgages, made to borrowers with the riskiest credit, has roiled lenders and the stock market in recent days.

Doug Duncan, the MBA's chief economist, said the jump in delinquencies was expected given the housing-market slowdown and that the shakeout in subprime lending should restore equilibrium to that market shortly.

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