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The Mortgage Bankers Association reported the seasonally adjusted delinquency rate fell 18 basis points during the third quarter of 2012 to 7.4 percent, erasing the 18 basis point increase from the previous quarter.

The lower delinquency rate was driven almost entirely by a sizable drop in the share of loans 90 or more days past due, which came in under 3 percent for the first time since 2008. In addition, the foreclosure inventory rate contracted 20 basis points to 4.07 percent, marking the largest quarterly percentage point decline in the history of the survey for this particular metric.

According to Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics, the combination of lower 90+ day delinquency and foreclosure inventory rates is a positive for the housing market since it “indicates a significant drop in the shadow inventory of distressed loans.”

Foreclosure starts declined to 0.9 percent of all first-lien mortgages during the third quarter of 2012—the lowest reading since the end of 2007. A total of 38 states saw the foreclosure starts rate fall versus the second quarter of 2012 while 39 registered a decline compared to the third quarter of 2011. In terms of the overall geographic concentration, Florida continues to account for nearly a quarter (23.4 percent) of all mortgage loans in foreclosure and when combined with California, New York, Illinois and New Jersey, these five states accounted for nearly 52 percent of all foreclosures and less than one-third of all mortgages.

New Jersey had the highest rate of foreclosure starts during the quarter due to a large backlog of 90+ day delinquent loans entering the foreclosure process. Arizona and Nevada, states that had foreclosure start rates at least twice the national average as recently as two years ago, are now seeing only slightly above-average rates of new foreclosure activity.

View this article on the NAHB blog, Eye on Housing.

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