The mortgage refinancing wave that began some three years ago is starting to have an impact on delinquency rates.
In the second quarter of this year, the national delinquency rate on all home loans climbed to 4.21%, up by 9 basis points from the level in the first quarter, according to the latest survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The figures are seasonally adjusted.
The small rise, the second in a row, was not considered alarming. It still left delinquencies below where they were a year ago.
Warren Lasko, executive vice president, said the rise was attributable to "the natural aging of mortgage loans being serviced."
"Loans originated during the initial phases of the refi boom are now two and a half to three years old. History has shown that this is the beginning of the period in the life of a loan when delinquency and foreclosure problems are most likely to develop," he added.
While delinquencies are smaller than those of a year ago, a continuing uptrend now seems likely as loans written during the peak of the refi boom move into the danger period.
Many observers also fear that relaxed underwriting standards will also contribute to higher delinquencies down the road.
The MBA study also pointed to the higher market share of adjustable mortgages, rising interest rates, increasing loan-to-value ratios and slow economic growth as possible sources of rising delinquencies.
"I would expect the rate to gradually move upward," said Mr. Lasko, "but I wouldn't assign much significance to that. You have to go back to 1974 to find rates as low as they are now."
The pattern of delinquencies, however, was very uneven across the country, and some of details were more interesting than the big picture.
In the Northeast, late payments rose 28 basis points above the first-quarter level, to 4.41%, and 19 points, to 3.70%, in the West. In the South, the rise was just 5 points, and the North Central region was unchanged.
Mr. Lasko pointed to the Northeast as one of the points of concern. "Job growth has slowed up there," he said. "That could be a problem.
The figures for conventional loans, which constitute about two-thirds of all loans surveyed, were as usual considerably lower.
The national rate climbed 9 basis points from the first-quarter level, to 2.71%, while VA loans jumped 11 points, to 6.4%, and FHA loans climbed 14 points, to 7.39%.
States with a rich mix of government loans versus conventional loans tended to show the highest overall delinquency rates. In Mississippi, for example, where two out of three loans are government-backed, the delinquency rate was 6.9%.
Mr. Lasko also pointed to the relatively low rate of 3.92% in California despite the state's economic problems.