U.S. consumers owed $8.995 trillion on their residential loans at the end of March — the lowest debt figure recorded in almost five years, according to new figures compiled by National Mortgage News and the Quarterly Data Report.

Housing debt (in the form of outstanding home mortgages) peaked at yearend 2009 at $10.1 trillion. But since that the time the nation’s economy has struggled to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression with millions of borrowers losing their jobs and going into arrears.

Servicers, as a whole, are processing a lower dollar amount of loans because foreclosed mortgages have been removed from the debt tally. Also, some consumers that have the financial wherewithal to refinance at ultra low rates are engaging in "cash-in" refis, lowering their overall housing debt.

According to NMN/QDR, 8.92% of all outstanding mortgages are 30 days or more late, which means $802 billion of loans are in some stage of delinquency.

Of the $8.995 trillion in outstanding mortgages, 76% are fixed-rate loans, the lowest reading since 2008. (For a larger analysis and servicing tables see the upcoming Monday edition of NMN.)

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