December mortgage delinquencies rise due to calendar effect: ICE

Delinquencies rose in December but the rise is mostly due to the calendar: December ended on a Sunday, so payments made on the last day of the month were credited to January. As a result, some loans appeared temporarily delinquent, ICE noted in its First Look Mortgage Performance report. The national delinquency rate rose to 3.57% in December, up from 3.39% in November.

On a yearly basis, the number of delinquencies edged up 2.65% in 2023. However, serious delinquencies (loans 90+ days past due) and foreclosures both declined year over year thanks to continuing forbearance and loss mitigation efforts by lenders.

In December, serious delinquencies rose month over month, adding 15,000 additional borrowers in that category, reaching 475,000 people in total. However, the rate of serious delinquencies was still 19% (-108,000) below that number at the end of  December 2022.

Meanwhile, early-stage delinquencies (30 and 60 days past due) also continued to increase. In December, 105,000 additional borrowers were 30 days or more late on their mortgage payments, amounting to roughly 1.9 million loans. 

Foreclosure starts decreased by 17.93% in December to 24,000, an 18-month low in new activity. The active foreclosure inventory fell to 212,000, the lowest level since March 2022. 

Likewise, the 5,400 foreclosure sales (completions) in December were down -17.2% compared to November.

The five states with the worst mortgage performance were Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia, and Indiana. At the other end of the spectrum, California, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Colorado were the states that showed the best mortgage performance.