Light at end of foreclosure tunnel?

Drop in short-term delinquencies could signal 'beginning of the end'

The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process ticked up to a new record high in the final three months of 2009, and could continue to climb depending on the fate of a record number of borrowers who are "seriously delinquent," or behind on their payments by 90 days or more, the Mortgage Bankers Association said today.

However, the percentage of mortgages 30 days past due eased from the third quarter to the fourth, a concrete sign of a "beginning of the end" of an unprecedented wave of mortgage delinquencies that began in early 2007, MBA Chief Economist Jay Brinkmann said.

While the improvement in short-term delinquencies was good news, loans 90 days or more past due now account for half of all delinquencies — the highest share in the history of the survey, Brinkmann said. A "sizable number" of those loans are in loan modification programs, he said.