Black Knight, in its "first look" at the month's loan data, says that mortgage delinquencies improved for the fifth consecutive month in October. The national delinquency rate fell another 3.3 percent from September to 6.44 percent, the lowest rate since last March. There were 3.437 million mortgages nationwide that were 30 or more days past due but not in foreclosure in October, down 105,000 loans in a month.
Despite the five months of improvement, however, the national delinquency rate is 90 percent higher than in October 2019, and the number of loans in the 30-day delinquency bucket is 1.651 million larger year-over-year. Black Knight's delinquent loan totals include those in active forbearance plans.
Serious delinquencies are also in retreat. Loans that were 90 or more days past due but not in foreclosure declined by 64,000, but again, the remaining numbers are not good. Black Knight reports that there are 2.259 million serious delinquencies, 1.826 million more than a year ago.
Foreclosure starts ticked up slightly in October. The 4,700 actions represented a 4.44 percent increase over the previous month, however, they were down 89.3 percent year-over-year. The company says that widespread COVID-19 foreclosure moratoriums continue to keep those activities at record lows. The moratoriums, which have been in effect since March, are also reflected in the foreclosure inventory, the number of loans in the process of foreclosure. That inventory is at a record low,178,000. This is down 3,000 from September and 77,000 from October 2019. The foreclosure inventory rate is 0.33 percent.
Record-low interest rates pushed prepayment activity higher, with October's prepayment rate of 3.17 percent setting the highest single-month mark in more than 16 years. The company also reported on Friday that Freddie Mac's reported interest rate for the week, 2.72 percent, was the 13th record low thus far in 2020. It pushed the number of homeowners who could qualify for and benefit from a refinance to about 19.4 million, also a record high. Those homeowners could save an average of $309 per month on their mortgage payments. If all those eligible to refinance did so, the national aggregate monthly savings would be $5.98 billion.
Black Knight will provide a more in-depth look at October loans performance data in its next edition of Mortgage Monitor. It will be published on December 7.