Delinquent first mortgages (30 or more days past due) totaled 5.65 percent of outstanding balances, down more than 22 percent year-over-year in February, according to Equifax's latest National Consumer Credit Trends Report.
The total balance of first mortgages 90 days past due or in foreclosure was less than $270 billion - a six-year low and a decrease of nearly 27 percent.
The total balance of first mortgages hit $7.97 trillion in February, the highest total since December 2011, and 2.8 percent higher than a year ago. It was the biggest year-over-year increase since September 2008.
"The decline in mortgage balances from accelerated amortization and foreclosure write-offs has finally been overcome by increases in mortgage debt due to home purchase lending," said Amy Crews Cutts, Equifax chief economist, in a statement.
Crews Cutts expects that trend to gain momentum heading into spring and summer.
Other highlights from the Equifax data include:
The total balance of home finance write-offs year-to-date in February is $17.9 billion, 41 percent lower than same time a year ago.
The total balance of home finance write-off dollars in 2013 was $149 billion, a decrease of more than 30 percent from 2012.
For the first time in four years, the total balance of home finance debt ($8.58 trillion), which includes first mortgage and home equity, has increased year-over-year for three consecutive months.
Home Equity Revolving:
The total limit of new credit year-to-date in December 2013 is $90.5 billion, a five-year high and a year-over-year increase of 15.7 percent, the highest in seven years;
The total number of new loans year-to-date in December 2013 is 1.05 million, a five-year high and a year-over-year increase of 20.8 percent, also a seven-year high;
In February 2014, the total balance of home equity revolving loans is $485.3 billion, a decrease of 6.8 percent from same time a year ago and a five-year low. Similarly, the total number of loans outstanding in February is 10.3 million, the lowest total in 10 years.
The total balance of severely delinquent home equity revolving loans in February 2014 is nearly $8.3 billion, a decrease of more than 16 percent from same time a year ago and the lowest since January 2008.
Home Equity Installment
The total balance of home equity installment loans is $134.2 billion, a decrease of 2.4 percent from same time a year ago, while the total number of loans outstanding is just over 3.9 million.
The total balance of home equity installment loans in foreclosure is $424 million.
The total balance of severely delinquent home equity installment loans (90 days past due or in foreclosure) is $3.54 billion.