COVID-19 has leveled the economy, and that’s taking a toll on homeowners. The mortgage delinquency rate in the Twin Cities during April doubled to 4.14% from the previous month, according to the most recent data available from Black Knight, a national data and analytics company.
While one of the biggest month-to-month increases, the delinquency rate in the Twin Cities, which includes 16 counties in the Black Knight study, remains among the lowest in the country.
Roger Kadlec, president of the Minnesota Mortgage Association, said people who work in restaurants and other service businesses, which have been particularly hard hit by the government shutdown, are among those who are having the most difficult time keeping up with their bills.
“I run all into this all the time in my day-to-day business with folks having trouble,” said. “They’re struggling to make their payment because they’re out of work.”
Black Knight said the national delinquency rate also nearly doubled to 6.45% during April. The increase was nearly three times the previous single-month record set in late 2008.
Those figures includes homeowners who didn’t make a mortgage payment during April as well as those who signed up for a mortgage forbearance plan, which enables them to delay their payments without penalty.
Minnesota’s unemployment rate hit 8.1% in April, the highest level since 1983. That figure likely understates the severity of joblessness in Minnesota, state officials say. Since March 16, more than 766,800 Minnesotans have filed for unemployment benefits, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Andy Walden, economist and director of market research for Black Knight, said historical observations suggest that delinquency rates could begin to crest early this summer.
“Daily mortgage performance data from May is suggesting another noticeable increase in delinquencies may be seen when May month-end numbers are reported in mid-June,” he said.
Walden noted that not all borrowers who signed up for the forbearance program have stopped making payments. Some signed up for the program just in case of hard times ahead but are still making full or partial payments.
Though the increase in late payments during April was steep and sudden, mortgage experts said the situation bears little resemblance to the foreclosure crisis that followed the Great Recession. Home prices in the Twin Cities are still on the rise, and homeowners have far more equity in their homes than they did when the mortgage crisis caused house prices to plummet.
Kadlec said because homeowners have so much equity, they will have an incentive to keep making their payments or sell the house rather than let it go into foreclosure. “This is a very different situation,” he said.
Like Walden, he expects the delinquency rate to stabilize and perhaps improve by the end of summer even as forbearance plans begin to expire, assuming there’s not a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“People are actively going back to work, and that should help people to get their mortgage delinquencies caught up,” he said.