Housing's new nightmare

chart_jobless_delinquencies2.top.gif By Tami Luhby, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In another ominous sign for the economy, the number of people falling behind on their mortgages for the first time is on the rise.

This grim statistic is only the latest bad news for the reeling economy. Home sales are in free fall, initial jobless claims remain high and the gross domestic product slowed to a near halt in the second quarter, government reports issued this week showed.

The increase in short-term delinquencies is leaving some experts wondering whether a new round of foreclosures is on the horizon, even as the current wave begins to ebb.

Some 3.51% of borrowers were 30 days late in their loan payments in the second quarter, up from 3.31% at the end of last year, according to new data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The shift is a stark reversal from the steady decline in short-term delinquencies during 2009.

The blame lies in the sputtering labor market, experts say. More people are losing their jobs, as evidenced in the steady rise in initial unemployment claims, and this is prompting them to default on their mortgages.

"You can't expect a recovery in the housing market in the absence of a recovery in the jobs market," said Jay Brinkmann, the association's chief economist. "It takes a paycheck to make a mortgage payment."

That recovery is not expected anytime soon. Economists are predicting the U.S. economy will shed 120,000 jobs in August, according to Briefing.com. Few are willing to bet that the private sector will ramp up hiring in coming months.

Short-term delinquencies, meanwhile, will likely continue rising, said Anthony Sanders, a real estate finance professor at George Mason University. And they will turn into a new wave of foreclosures unless the borrowers can land a job.

"This is all negative news for the housing market," he said. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,677.90 216.58 1.32%
Nasdaq 4,452.79 69.95 1.60%
S&P 500 1,950.82 23.71 1.23%
Treasuries 2.28 0.05 2.06%
Data as of 3:52am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 104.83 1.84 1.79%
Bank of America Corp... 16.60 0.20 1.22%
AT&T Inc 33.66 -0.84 -2.43%
Microsoft Corp 45.02 0.64 1.44%
Facebook Inc 80.04 1.67 2.13%
Data as of Oct 23

Sections

Buffett's investment firm lost big on Coca-Cola and IBM this week, but that's about the extent of his losses this year. More

Regulators are about to reveal the results of an extensive health check of Europe's top 130 banks, indicating which may need a cash infusion. More

Using technology developed for the military and implemented in Iraq, schools have installed alarm systems that detect gunfire. More

Dressing up in crazy costumes, traveling the world, posing for photos -- and getting paid to do it. Here are journal entries from a day in the life of professional "cosplay" character, Linda Le. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.