Mortgage performance, usually at its best in February and March, because it is assumed that tax refunds allow people to catch up on financial obligations.  But, with data in on February, Black Knight says this year may be an exception to that rule. 

In its First Look at the month's numbers the company says loan delinquencies rose in February for the first time in 12 years. There were 74,000 more loans that were 30 or more days past due than in January, an increase of 3.7 percent.  Even with that spike, there were still 9.5 percent or 179,000 fewer delinquencies than in February 2018.  At the end of the month 2.02 million loans nationwide were delinquent but not in foreclosure, a rate of 3.89 percent.

Other performance measures continued to improve. Serious delinquencies, loans 90 or more days past due but not in foreclosure, declined by 2,000 from January and 195,000 year-over-year.  Foreclosure starts were down by 19.5 percent and 14.0 percent from the two earlier periods to 40,400 starts, just short of last fall's 15-year low.  There were 264,000 homes in the process of foreclosure, down 1,000 from January and 67,000 year over year.  This foreclosure inventory represented only one-half percent of all loans nationwide with a mortgage.  The states with the highest percentage of non-current loans continue to be Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.

The prepayment rate jumped by 11.1 percent in February as interest rates continued to slide.  The rate, considered an indicator of refinancing activity, was 0.66 percent.

Black Knight will release its Mortgage Monitor with a more detailed look at February loan performance on April 1.