Fewer Long Island homeowners are late on their mortgages as the economy improves, although they still have higher rates of debt and delinquency than others across the country, a new report shows.
Of all local homeowners with mortgages, 5.4 percent were at least 90 days late on their payments during the April-to-June period, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported Wednesday. That rate is more than twice the national delinquency rate of 2.6 percent.
Still, it's an improvement compared with the last three months of 2014, when 5.9 percent of Long Islanders received late-payment notices from their mortgage lenders.
"The slight decrease in delinquency is good news, so I'm happy about that, but we are still seeing lots of families that come in for assistance," said Marianne Garvin, chief executive of the nonprofit housing and economic development group Community Development Corp. of Long Island.
"Unemployment is going down and people are able to get work, but oftentimes they're underemployed and they're not making a high enough income to really be able to thrive on Long Island," said Garvin, whose group is based in Centereach.
The findings reinforce a report last week by national real estate data company CoreLogic, which concluded that Long Islanders suffer more housing distress than the nation as a whole, although they are gradually emerging from mortgage delinquency.
However, even as Long Islanders have caught up on their mortgage bills, they have fallen further behind on other debt, the New York Fed reported.
The NY Fed found that 2.5 percent of Long Islanders with home equity loans were delinquent; 3.4 percent of those with auto loans had fallen behind; and 7.3 percent of those with credit cards were at least 90 days late. All those delinquency rates were slightly higher than in the last quarter of 2014.
Of those with student loans, 10 percent were late, unchanged from the final quarter of 2014. That's lower than the national rate of 16.3 percent.
At the Community Development Corp., a growing number of clients must spend up to two years shedding debt, clearing up dings on their credit reports and budgeting their money so they can qualify for a mortgage, Garvin said.
Looking at all Long Islanders with a credit report and a Social Security number, 28.8 percent had a mortgage, and the average balance was $264,500, according to the April-to-June report. Nationwide, 25.9 percent carried home mortgages, with an average balance of $185,700.
The Fed study used a representative sample of Equifax credit reports. The report released last week by CoreLogic relied on public records and data from lenders.