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Why paying your mortgage on time is a must!

June 4, 2012
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Fewer homeowners have been falling behind on their mortgage payments over the last two years, yet even with the improvement, a significant number still are delinquent or in foreclosure.
Related Mortgage delinquencies are “about halfway back to long-term prerecession levels,” said Jay Brinkmann, the chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, in its fourth-quarter delinquency report, which was released last month. Some 7.58 percent of all residential loans were delinquent at the end of 2011, down from a 10 percent high in 2010 but well above the 5 percent prerecession average. All together, 12.63 percent one in eight homeowners were in trouble or in foreclosure at the end of the year, the association reported.

Meanwhile a separate report last month, from the credit-reporting agency TransUnion, found that delinquency rates fell to 6.01 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 from 6.4 percent the same period the year before, though they rose slightly from the third quarter. Delinquencies of 60 days or more are expected to rise again in the first quarter of 2012, then decline the rest of the year, said David Blumberg, a TransUnion spokesman.

With so many homeowners still pinched financially, it is crucial to understand and adhere to payment deadlines. In general, payments are due on the first of the month; many lenders, though, allow a 15-day grace period. That means “not written by, not posted by, but received by the servicer” on that day, said Michael McHugh, the president of Continental Home Loans in Melville, N.Y., and the president of the Empire State Mortgage Bankers Association. In scheduling automatic electronic payments, he advised, allow at least “five days’ leeway.”

If the payment arrives even a day past the grace period, your lender will very likely charge a late fee of 2 to 5 percent of the monthly payment, Mr. McHugh said. The late fee and timing are spelled out in mortgage documents. Some late fees may be waived, especially if you have a history of on-time payment.

What is less often waived is the nick to the credit score. At 30 days tardy, a lender sends the credit bureaus a report, which is immediately transferred to your credit report, said Rod Griffin, the director of consumer and public education at Experian, another credit-reporting bureau. The black mark stays on the books seven years, he said, unless successfully challenged.

“That late payment on a mortgage is going to have a significant negative effect on your credit score,” Mr. Griffin said.

Research last year by FICO, the provider of one of the most popular credit scores used by lenders, showed a 60- to 110-point drop in scores for being 30 days late, with the biggest reduction to those with the highest starting score of 780. It could take nine months to three years for the FICO score to recover fully, the research indicated.

VantageScore, a rival to FICO, estimates that the initial hit would be 60 to 100 points at 30 days delinquent and another 10 to 20 points at 60 days.

The key, the experts say, is to pay up before you are 30 days behind or, failing that, to keep the payments no more than 120 days delinquent to avoid foreclosure proceedings and many extra costs, they say. “If they can stay between 90 and 120 days’ delinquency,” said Carol Yopp, the manager of the foreclosure program at the Long Island Housing Partnership, “they typically don’t get referred for foreclosure.”

Ms. Yopp, who also has 16 years’ experience as a mortgage underwriter, notes that many lenders will not take partial payments on mortgages; they will hold them in a “suspend account” until the borrower has the full amount. Still, she suggested homeowners make a partial payment anyway, so they’re not tempted to use the earmarked funds elsewhere.

Source: New York Times

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