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Data shows housing distress in New Mexico continuing to ease

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The foremost symptoms of housing distress — mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures — continue to subside in New Mexico and around the country, but don’t expect the problem to go away anytime soon, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The owner of this home located on Albuquerque's Westside who facing foreclosure has the option of selling it to an investor. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

The owner of this home located on Albuquerque’s Westside who facing foreclosure has the option of selling it to an investor. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

New Mexico’s mortgage delinquency rate was 5.7 percent in the third quarter, hardly enough to raise eyebrows given that the rate topped 8 percent in 2009, but still about 1.5 percentage points higher than a level that might be considered normal, according to association data.

For comparison, the average delinquency rate nationwide was 6.7 percent in the third quarter. The delinquency rate is a measure of homes with mortgages that are one month or more behind on payments but not in the foreclosure process.

New Mexico’s foreclosure rate was a still elevated 3.4 percent in the third quarter, which is the 12th highest rate in the country, the association reports in its National Delinquency Survey for the third quarter. The state’s foreclosure rate is less than 1 percent in normal times.

The average foreclosure rate nationwide was 3.1 percent in the third quarter.

States like New Mexico that use a judicial process for foreclosures, on average, have foreclosure rates three times higher than states with out-of-court foreclosure procedures. In New Mexico, foreclosures almost always involve the lender filing a civil lawsuit against the homeowner in state district court.

Adding the delinquency and foreclosure rates together, 9.1 percent of the homes with mortgages in New Mexico were in housing distress in the third quarter, compared with an average of 9.7 percent nationwide.

In 2010, housing distress topped 10.6 percent in New Mexico and approached 14 percent nationwide.

The general decline in housing distress across most of the country has led mortgage servicers to reduce staffs that handled delinquencies and foreclosures, a trend that’s expected to continue, said MBA chief economist Jay Brinkmann in a news release on the survey.

Noting that mortgage delinquencies are the result of local economic decisions, not the cause of them, Brinkmann said, “Those areas with the weaker climates for economic growth will see home value and delinquency problems that are beyond the abilities of the mortgage industry and housing regulators to impact in a meaningful way.”

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