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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah's foreclosure rate -- once among the highest in the country -- is going down and is moving closer to the national average.
About 1.06 percent of mortgages in Utah were in foreclosure in the third quarter, down from 1.52 percent in the same three-month period a year earlier, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday in its National Delinquency Survey.
The national average for the third quarter was 0.97 percent.
Utah's delinquency rate, which measures the total share of loans that are past due but not yet at the foreclosure stage, was 4.12 percent in the third quarter, down from 4.64 percent during the same three months in 2004.
"With a strong economy like Utah has, you would expect to see delinquency and foreclosure rates fall," said Kelly Matthews, Wells Fargo & Co. economist.
The state's delinquency rate is below the national average of 4.44 percent. If the effects of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi were removed, the national rate would be 4.21 percent.
Employment growth that tops most other states and a stronger real estate market all are helping Utahns hold on to their homes, economists say.
More jobs generally mean fewer foreclosures. And homeowners who can sell their homes fast and at an amount that covers what they owe on their mortgages-are less likely to lose their homes to foreclosure.
"As homes in Utah continue to appreciate, we'll see our delinquency rate fall even further," said John B. Norman, executive director of the Utah Mortgage Lenders Association.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)