Residential mortgage delinquency and foreclosure rates declined in the third quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's quarterly delinquency survey.The overall percentage of home loans that were 30 or more days past due declined to 4.41%, down from 4.43% in the second quarter. The third-quarter rate was down 24 basis points from the same period in 2003. While the rate of foreclosure starts remained unchanged from that of the second quarter, the inventory of home loans in the foreclosure process declined 2 bps to 1.14%, the lowest rate since the third quarter of 2000, according to the MBA. MBA chief economist Doug Duncan said the improvement in delinquencies and foreclosures was expected. "The continued modest declines in both delinquencies and foreclosures reflect the strong pace of economic growth and its steady, modest job creation," Mr. Duncan said. "These improvements override the effects of the increased subprime and ARM shares and the aging of the young mortgage portfolio."

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