The national mortgage loan delinquency rate - the ratio of borrowers 60 or more days past due - decreased in the first quarter of 2010 after steady increases for 12 consecutive quarters, according to a TransUnion report.

The delinquency rate dropped to 6.77 percent, a level slightly lower than in the fourth quarter of last year. This statistic, which is traditionally seen as a precursor to foreclosure, reflects a decrease of 1.74 percent from the previous quarter's 6.89 percent average. Year over year, mortgage borrower delinquency is still up approximately 30 percent.

With prices beginning to rise, increasing consumer confidence and positive trends in the equity markets, home owners who are currently upside down on their mortgages may be less inclined to join the ranks of defaulters, which have been growing in number since the summer of 2008, FJ Guarrera, vice president in TransUnion's financial services business unit, said in a statement.

TransUnion culls information quarterly from approximately 27 million anonymous, randomly sampled, individual credit files, representing approximately 10 percent of credit-active U.S. consumers and providing a real-life perspective on how they are managing their credit health.

The company's forecasting models indicated that mortgage delinquency rates would be leveling off in mid 2010 at both the state and national levels.