The U.S. mortgage delinquency rate rose in May to its highest level in more than eight years though homeowners have been making a higher share of payments this month.
As Americans continue to struggle to pay bills amid the COVID-19 pandemic, another 723,000 homeowners became past due on their mortgages in May, pushing the delinquency rate to 7.76%, according to property research firm Black Knight.
The delinquency rate was 6.45% in April and 3.39% in March, when states began issuing stay-at-home orders to try to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Serious delinquencies, which means mortgages that are 90 days past due but are not yet in foreclosure, increased 36.5% to 631,000 in May over the previous month.
With the May additions, there are now 4.3 million homeowners past due on their mortgages or in active foreclosure — up from 2 million at the end of March.
However, Black Knight also noted that “a higher share of payments have been made thus far in June than at the same time in May, suggesting the rise in delinquencies may be leveling off.”
Total foreclosure starts fell 31.1% last month while foreclosure sales dropped 19.5%. A moratorium on foreclosures for loans that are backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration is in place through the end of August because of the pandemic.
Mississippi had the worst delinquency rate, at 12.73%, according to Black Knight. Louisiana was next, at 11.79%, followed by New York at 11.28%, New Jersey at 11.03%, and Florida at 10.52%.
The states with the lowest delinquency rates were Idaho at 4.4%, Washington at 4.91%, South Dakota at 5.02%, Oregon at 5.12%, and Montana at 5.13%.