Almost 8 percent of Nevadans behind in mortgage payments

ASSOCIATED PRESS

An auction sign for a foreclosed home in Las Vegas bends in the wind, Nov. 17, 2010.

Fewer Nevadans are behind on their mortgage payments this summer than last summer, but the state's delinquency rate remains one of the highest in the country.

Nevada had a 7.7 percent mortgage delinquency rate for the three months ending June 30, meaning almost eight out of every 100 residents with home loans were at least 60 days past due, according to a new report by TransUnion, a Chicago-based research firm.

Nevada's rate was the second-highest in the country, behind Florida, which had a 9.9 percent delinquency rate.

A year earlier, Nevada’s rate was 10.9 percent. That also was second-highest to Florida, which had a 13.5 percent rate.

The delinquency rate nationally also has dropped, falling to 4.1 percent in the second quarter from 5.5 percent a year earlier, TransUnion reported.

Higher housing prices and low interest rates have helped homeowners refinance or sell their way out of mortgage payments they couldn’t afford, said Tim Martin, group vice president of U.S. housing for TransUnion.

The company expects the delinquency rate to slide further this year, but the recent, sharp increase in interest rates “may eventually slow the progress,” Martin said.

Nevada’s improvement comes amid a surge in the local housing market, fueled in large part by investors who buy cheap homes in bulk to turn into rentals.

Prices for new and used homes jumped 37 percent and 33 percent respectively over the past year in Southern Nevada. Home values rose 29 percent in the Las Vegas Valley, the second-fastest rate among major metropolitan areas.

Meanwhile, the national average for a 30-year mortgage rate jumped in late June to 4.5 percent from 3.9 percent the week before — the biggest one-week increase since April 1987 and the highest rate since July 2011, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

The rate hike came amid talks that the Federal Reserve would start scaling back its bond-buying program later this year. The average 30-year rate has since tapered off but remains higher than last year.

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