More homeowners were 60 days late or more on mortgage payments in the third quarter of 2011, the first increase since the end of 2009, according to credit reporting agency TransUnion.
The delinquency rate rose to 5.88 percent, up from 5.82 percent in the second quarter. The rate indicates that a homeowner is at risk for default.
TransUnion had expected the rates to decline. However, in the third quarter, the consumer was hit with several unanticipated shocks, including the U.S. credit rating downgrade, stock price declines, European debt concerns, stubbornly high unemployment, more downward pressure on home values and low consumer confidence, said Tim Martin, group vice president of U.S. Housing in TransUnion's financial services business unit, in a statement.
All of this affects a borrower's net worth and desire, or ability, to continue making house payments -- especially if they are facing negative equity in their homes due to price depreciation.
Most of the country had increased delinquencies, with 64 percent of metropolitan areas seeing increases, up from 21 percent in the second quarter and 32 percent in the third quarter. Only 10 states and the District of Columbia did not have increased delinquencies.
The states with the highest delinquency rates were Florida, with 14.08 percent, Nevada, with 12.39 percent, New Jersey, with 7.6 percent and Arizona, with 7.46 percent. Major cities in three of those states - including Miami, Las Vegas and Phoenix - saw speculative development booms before the recession. Meanwhile, New Jersey has some of the highest property taxes in the country.
North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Alaska had the lowest delinquency rates, all below 3 percent.
TransUnion predicted that delinquency rates would decrease in 2012, but the next quarter or two could see more nonpayments in light of the uncertain economic outlook.