Mortgage default rates inch up closer to year-ago levels

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Mortgage defaults in September were slightly higher than in the previous month and are still lower than a year ago but they are closer to matching levels seen in 2016.

The default rate for first mortgages last month was 0.66%, up a basis point from August, but down a basis point from September a year ago, according to Standard & Poor's and Experian.

Second-mortgage default rates were three basis points higher on a consecutive-month basis at 0.53% but were 3 basis points lower year-to-year.

The composite default rate for mortgage, bank card and auto loan credit was up 2 basis points from a month ago and down 2 basis points from a year ago at 0.88%.

The auto loan default rate in September was up 10 basis points from where they were the previous month, and the same as where they stood a year ago at 1.05%.

Card defaults were down 4 basis points from the previous month but up 29 basis points year-over-year at 3.15%.

"No sector is currently showing substantial increases or signs that consumers are facing financial stress. Other economic indicators through the summer echo consumers' favorable condition: debt service as a proportion of income is modest while consumer credit and mortgage borrowing continue to see moderate," said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a press release.

But upward pressure on defaults could increase.

"Consumers in some parts of the country may face other challenges that could shift the consumer credit default picture," he said. "Hurricanes Harvey and Irma wreaked havoc across the South and Southeastern United States; more recent wildfires in California and the West are creating further damage and loss."

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Mortgage defaults Underwriting Consumer lending Credit quality S&P Experian