There's yet another piece of proof that the Twin Cities housing market is healing: area mortgage delinquencies are about half the national average.
In May, just 2.37 percent of all homeowners were more than 90 days late on their payments, nearly a full percentage point lower than last year, according to a report Wednesday from CoreLogic. Not only are delinquencies far below the U.S. average of 4.44 percent, foreclosure rates are declining to prerecession levels.
"We no longer speak of this as a crisis in broad terms, we now think of it as more of a regional crisis," said Ed Nelson of the Minnesota Homeownership Center. "But for a family that's having a difficult time making the payment, it's still a crisis for that family."
In the Twin Cities metro, the foreclosures rate was 0.52 percent compared with 1.73 percent nationwide.
The Homeownership Center is in the midst of compiling its midyear report and early indications suggest that by the end of the year, foreclosure actions in Minnesota are expected to fall to historically normal levels, or about 5,000 to 6,000 actions annually. At the peak of the housing crisis in 2008, there were more than 26,000 foreclosures.
The decline in delinquencies is also an important step toward the market's recovery: They are an indicator of future foreclosures.
Minnesota's housing market is improving as rising employment, higher home prices and more stringent credit standards have reduced the number of people with risky mortgages.
Delinquencies, most of which eventually lead to foreclosure, are the lowest in the most-populated parts of the metro where job growth has been the strongest and home prices have risen most.
But in working-class communities where jobs are scarce and incomes are the lowest, the crisis is waning at a much slower pace, according to Julie Gugin, the Homeownership Center's executive director.
"Those areas are still really struggling," she said.
In the most northern reaches of Isanti, Sherburne and St. Croix counties, the foreclosure rate exceeds 2.8 percent compared with less than 0.8 percent across most of the metro, according to the latest CoreLogic report.
Nationwide there were 47,000 completed foreclosures during May, a 9.4 percent decline from last year. Before the decline in the housing market that began in 2007, there were an average of 21,000 foreclosures per month from 2000 to 2006.
"There is still much hard work to do to clear the backlog of foreclosed properties," said Anand Nallathabl, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "We need to continue to aggressively clear distressed homes to ensure the return of a healthy housing market."