For years since the crash, Long Island's mortgage delinquency rate has stood far above the national average. But it declined rapidly during the first three months of the year, at a pace that's more than 5 percentage points faster than the nation as a whole. It's an especially impressive feat when you consider the U.S. rate dropped more precipitously than ever before.
Just 5.87 percent of mortgage borrowers in Nassau County, and 7.37 percent of their Suffolk County counterparts, were more than 60 days past due on their mortgage payments during the first quarter, according to TransUnion, a credit data firm. For Nassau, that's a 17.2 percent decline over the three-month period from the end of 2012 and for Suffolk it's an even steeper 17.7 percent drop. Meanwhile, compared to the same period a year ago, mortgage delinquency rates fell by about 25 percent in both counties.
Still, Long Island's mortgage delinquency rates remained substantially greater than the national first-quarter rate of 4.56 percent, which marked the largest quarterly and yearly decrease in the 21 years TransUnion has tracked the data. It was 12.1 percent below the December 2012 rate and 21.1 percent less than the March 2012 figure.
"We certainly expected improvement this quarter, as the housing sector is in recovery, but the magnitude of the improvement was unexpected," Tim Martin, a vice president in TransUnion's housing unit, said in a statement. "All housing data point to further improvements in the delinquency rate, though as in the past few years, this also will hinge on how quickly older vintage loans clear through the system."
In New York State, where so-called vintage loans have taken longer to clear through the system thanks to its judicial foreclosure process, the delinquency rate was greater than the national average at 5.48 percent. It fell 14.1 percent quarter-over-quarter.
But the mortgage delinquency rate still has a long way to tumble before it returns to its historical norm in the range of 1- to 2-percent.
"We do not know if the first quarter was a blip, or if it's the beginning of a more rapid decline," Martin added.
See recent mortgage delinquency information for Nassau and Suffolk counties in the chart below. The data was provided to Newsday.com by TransUnion.