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Mortgage Delinquencies Rise, More Homeowners Under Water

The mortgage loan delinquency rate — the percentage of borrowers who are 60 days or more past due on making a payment — hit a national average high of 4.58 percent for the fourth quarter of 2008, according to Transunion.com. Traditionally seen as a precursor to foreclosures, this statistic is up from 3.96 percent in the third quarter and 2.99 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007. This marks the eighth straight quarter that the national average delinquency rate increased, and Transunion.com forecasts that it could reach as high as 8 percent by the end of 2009.

Florida and Nevada posted the highest mortgage delinquency rates in the country at 9.52 percent and 9.01 percent, respectively. North Dakota (1.21 percent) and South Dakota (1.97 percent) had the lowest rates. On average, borrowers carried $192,789 of mortgage debt during the fourth quarter, up from $191,370 in the fourth quarter of 2007.

A related study released this morning finds that one in five property owners who hold a mortgage were “under water” at the end of December. The study, which was conducted by First American CoreLogic, finds that 8.3 million mortgage holders owed more money on their homes than the properties were worth. That is up from the 7.6 million mortgage holders that were under water at the end of September, the company reports.

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