Delinquencies down, but housing market still hurting

WASHINGTON, March 31 (Reuters) – Delinquencies on U.S. home
mortgages fell for the fourth consecutive quarter, but the
housing market still faces serious problems, according to a
report released by U.S. banking regulators on Thursday.

The total number of serious delinquencies fell 8.2 percent
to 1.76 million in the fourth quarter, according to a report
from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the
Office of Thrift Supervision.

Completed and newly initiated foreclosures were down
significantly in the quarter, but this slowdown was due to
reviews being conducted by banks and regulators of lenders’
mortgage servicing procedures, which are being heavily
scrutinized.

A group of 50 state attorneys general and about a dozen
federal agencies are probing bank mortgage servicing problems
that came to light last year, including the use of
“robo-signers” to sign hundreds of unread foreclosure documents
a day.

Regulators said new and completed foreclosures are set to
increase in the coming quarters when this review is finished.

In the fourth quarter, completed foreclosures dropped by
almost 50 percent to 95,067, while newly initiated foreclosures
fell by almost 8 percent to 352,318.

The OCC and OTS Mortgage Metrics Report provides
performance data on first-lien residential mortgages serviced
by national banks and federally regulated thrifts. The
mortgages in this portfolio comprise about 63 percent of all
mortgages outstanding in the United States.
(Reporting by Dave Clarke, Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

Delinquencies down, but housing market still hurting