Amid record-breaking unemployment numbers resulting from COVID-19, millions of Americans are struggling to make their mortgage payments in 2020. In response to the crisis, the CARES Act invoked a moratorium on home foreclosures for all federally-backed mortgages that extends until the end of the year. The Act also placed many federally-backed mortgage loans into forbearance, allowing mortgage payments to be temporarily deferred for the nearly 70 percent of all outstanding mortgage holders with federally-backed mortgages.

Recent data from the New York Fed shows that in light of forbearance programs, the percentage of total mortgage debt in the United States that is seriously delinquent (90+ days overdue) is at a 15-year low. Taking forbearance into account, the New York Fed data likely reflects the short-term impact of the federal relief package on the current economic environment. In contrast, CoreLogic data shows a five-year high in the seriously delinquent rate and a 21-year high in mortgage payments that are more than 120 days past due. CoreLogic’s analysis considers all missed mortgage payments regardless of whether they are in forbearance, presenting what is likely a more accurate picture of the impending mortgage payment crisis once the relief bill expires.

When forbearance programs expire and the moratorium on foreclosures is lifted, millions of homeowners could be in serious trouble. States that were struggling prior to COVID-19 will likely be the most impacted. Although unemployment numbers have been improving since they peaked in April, total mortgage debt has been mounting for decades and accounts for the largest share of consumer debt in the United States. Nationally, the average mortgage debt per household with a mortgage is nearly $200,000.

Despite rising debt, prior to the pandemic, the percentage of mortgage debt that was seriously delinquent had been declining steadily since 2010. After the onset of COVID-19, while credit card debt started to spike, both seriously delinquent mortgage and student loan debt continued to drop. The simultaneous declines in mortgage and student loan delinquencies coincide with the passage of the CARES Act and the forbearance programs that it established. However, forbearance programs will eventually end, causing both student loan and mortgage payments to resume.

Looking at the most recently available state-level breakdown of mortgage delinquency data from the New York Fed, it’s apparent that Northeastern states report the highest rates of seriously delinquent mortgages in the country. New York shows the highest percentage at 1.90 percent, followed by Connecticut and Delaware at 1.77 percent and 1.73 percent, respectively. Southern states like Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida also report high mortgage delinquency rates. The lowest rates are in the Mountain states of Colorado, Utah, and Idaho, with each reporting rates below 0.50 percent.

To find the states with the highest mortgage delinquency rates in the country, researchers used the most recent state-level data from the New York Fed. States were ranked according to the percentage of total mortgage debt that was 90+ days delinquent. The report includes the average mortgage debt per household with a mortgage, the median income of households with a mortgage, and the April 2020 unemployment rate for each location.

The states with the largest mortgage debt problems are likely to be the most impacted when forbearance programs expire. While there is no significant correlation between the delinquency rates and peak unemployment, states with already high mortgage delinquencies and economies that were hit hard by the response to COVID-19 might fare worse in the future.

The analysis found that Utah homeowners were seriously delinquent on 0.47% of all mortgage debt at the conclusion of 2019. Out of all states, Utah reported the 2nd lowest percentage of mortgage debt that was seriously delinquent. Here is a summary of the data for Utah:

  • Mortgage delinquency rate: 0.47%
  • Average mortgage debt per household w/ a mortgage: $214,342
  • Median income for households w/ a mortgage: $96,894
  • April 2020 unemployment rate: 10.4%

For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:

  • Mortgage delinquency rate: 1.07%
  • Average mortgage debt per household w/ a mortgage: $195,545
  • Median income for households w/ a mortgage: $96,969
  • April 2020 unemployment rate: 14.4%

For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Construction Coverage’s website: https://constructioncoverage.com/research/states-with-the-most-mortgage-delinquencies-2020

Stuart is the founder, writer and wrangler at several sites including Gastronomic SLC, Utah Now and, The Utah Review; Stuart is a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune and has worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.