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Jax Daily Record Friday, Feb. 1, 201904:50 AM EST

Delinquency data good news for housing market

Jacksonville-based Black Knight Inc. reports only 3.88 percent of U.S. mortgage loans were delinquent at the end of December.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

As 2018 ended, many analysts were predicting a downturn in the housing market in the new year.

While that may yet happen, Jacksonville-based Black Knight Inc. last week reported some good news for housing: Only 3.88 percent of U.S. mortgage loans were delinquent at the end of December, the lowest year-end percentage since Black Knight began compiling data in 2000.

Delinquent loans are classified as loans more than 30 days past due but not in foreclosure.

Black Knight, which provides processing services for almost two-thirds of all U.S. first mortgage loans, said only 0.52 percent of loans were in active foreclosure, the lowest year-end figure since 2005.

Florida had the best improvement in delinquent loans in the last half of 2018. While the state’s level of noncurrent loans was above the national percentage at 4.94 percent, the level dropped by 12.37 percent in the last six months of the year, Black Knight said.

While that data on delinquencies and foreclosures may be encouraging, other firms were reporting data indicating downward trends in the housing markets.

Online real estate brokerage firm Redfin last week said the supply of homes for sale across the country is increasing, but fewer of those homes are affordable for families making the median income.

Redfin analyzed data on median income and homes on the market in 49 metro areas and determined the percentage of homes for sale that are affordable dropped in every one.

“Over the last few years builders have focused on luxury homes, and there hasn’t been enough construction of affordable starter homes,” Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather said in a news release.

However, there was a bright side for the Jacksonville market.

The share of homes for sale that were affordable in the Jacksonville area dropped from 76 percent in 2017 to 72 percent last year, Redfin said. But there has been a big increase in the number of homes put on the market in Northeast Florida, so the overall number of affordable homes for sale in the area rose by 8.5 percent last year.

Only Hartford, Connecticut, with an 18.8 percent increase, had a bigger jump in the number of affordable homes for sale.

A study last week from online loan marketplace LendingTree offers one reason why more homes are up for sale in Jacksonville.

LendingTree looked at the 50 largest U.S. cities and found Jacksonville homeowners stay in their house for an average of 6.72 years, the sixth shortest average tenure in the country.

Weather seems to be a factor.

“Hot and sunny places have the shortest tenures. The three cities with the shortest tenures — Las Vegas, Phoenix and Austin — are all in warm-weather areas. This reflects high migration rates to those cities,” LendingTree said in a news release.

Meanwhile, the three cities where homeowners stay the longest are in the chilly Northeast: Pittsburgh, New York and Buffalo.

So as the polar vortex hits the northern U.S. this week, Jacksonville homeowners can warm themselves with thoughts that their property is only getting more appealing.

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