LPS’ Data Show Declines in Delinquencies and Foreclosure Inventories, by Carrie Bay, Dsnews.com

Image representing Lender Processing Services ...

Image via CrunchBase

Lender Processing Services, Inc. (LPS) gave the media an advance look Monday at the company’s February mortgage performance report to be released later this week. In what can be viewed as an anomaly of the current housing crisis, LPS’ data show that both the national mortgage delinquency rate and the share of homes that are in the process of foreclosure drifted lower last month.

The Florida-based analytics firm reports that the total loan delinquency rate for the U.S. mortgage market dropped to 8.80 percent. LPS calculates this stat based on loans that are 30 or more days past due, but not yet moved into foreclosure.

The February delinquency rate is 1.2 percent below the rate recorded by LPS in January and 18.4 percent lower than it was in February 2010.

The industry’s foreclosure inventory rate, which LPS defines as loans that have been referred to a foreclosure attorney but have not yet reached the final stage of foreclosure sale, slipped 0.2 percent last month to 4.15 percent. Foreclosure activity was bottlenecked last fall when the news of improper affidavit filings surfaced and several large servicers temporarily froze proceedings to review internal processes, causing foreclosure inventory numbers to swell as loans languished in the pipeline.

Although LPS’ month-to-month reading indicates foreclosure cases have begun to progress again, the company notes that the U.S. foreclosure pre-sale inventory rate remains 7.4 percent above that in February 2010.

Altogether, LPS says there are 6,856,000 properties in the United States with mortgages that are currently 30 or more days delinquent or in foreclosure.

Of these unpaid loans, 2,196,000 are part of the foreclosure inventory, meaning the lender has initiated foreclosure proceedings on the property but it has not yet advanced to the foreclosure sale stage.

The other 4,659,000 are 30-plus days overdue but not in foreclosure. Within this bucket, 2,165,000 have been delinquent for at least 90 days – and in most cases, longer – but have not been referred to an attorney to start the foreclosure process.

LPS reports the states with the highest ratio of non-current loans – meaning the combined percentage of both foreclosures and delinquencies – are Florida, Nevada, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Georgia.

States with the lowest percentage of non-current loans included Montana, Wyoming, Arkansas, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

LPS will provide a more in-depth review of this data in its monthly Mortgage Monitor report, scheduled for publication March 25. The company’s statistics are derived from its loan-level database of nearly 40 million mortgage loans.