10 States Where Homeowners Struggle Most to Pay Mortgages

Mississippi State Capitol
shawnzrossi/FlickrThere are few redeeming things to be said about the housing market in the state that ranks No. 1 on this list.
By Christine DiGangi

The realms of home loans and homeownership have undergone many challenges during the past several years. The foreclosure crisis wiped out hundreds of thousands of homeowners, credit dried up and many who remained in possession of their homes faced plummeting property values, sometimes struggling to keep up with mortgage payments along the way.

Even as interest rates dropped and the market heated up, there have been fewer mortgages opened in some parts of the country, and millions of consumers are still struggling to afford the monthly payments on their homes. At the same time, those same people have contended with stagnating wages, rising student loan debt and paying down credit card debt accrued during the recession, not to mention the sense of extreme caution some people adopted after the crisis.

That leaves us with a slowly growing economy and a mortgage market that's inching forward. We looked at second-quarter mortgage data from this year, using the Experian-Oliver Wyman Market Intelligence Reports and analyzing it with Experian's IntelliView tool, to see which states are struggling most with mortgage recovery. The rankings weigh these factors: the number of mortgages originated per capita, outstanding mortgages per capita and percent of borrowers more than 60 days past due on their home loans. The first two data points were adjusted based on 2013 Census Bureau population estimates, each factor was given equal weight in determining rank and the data is the most recent available. Individual ranks were added together to determine overall rankings.

Here are 10 states where homeowners are still struggling:

10. Pennsylvania

New mortgages per capita, Q2 2014: 0.00439 (17th lowest)
Outstanding mortgages per capita, Q2 2014: 0.1505 (12th lowest)
Percentage of mortgages 60+ days past due, Q2014: 3.28% (13th highest)

Most of the states on this list scored very poorly in at least one category, but Pennsylvania is in the top 10 because of its failure to excel in any measure: It has the 12th-lowest mortgage origination rate per capita, 13th highest delinquency rate and 17th lowest number of existing mortgages, when adjusted for population. It's not that bad -- it's not in the bottom 10 in any individual category -- but it's the 10th worst overall.

9. North Carolina

New mortgages per capita: 0.00352 (5th)
Outstanding mortgages per capita: 0.1558 (16th)
Delinquency rate: 3.13% (15th)

North Carolina slumps when it comes to new mortgages: Its 34,710 home loans originated in the second quarter put it at the fifth lowest spot in that category, bringing it down to ninth overall.

8. Georgia

New mortgages per capita: 0.00347 (4th)
Outstanding mortgages per capita: 0.1614 (21st)
Delinquency rate: 3.37% (11th)

Like North Carolina, Georgia's problems stem from mortgage origination. There's not a ton of activity in the state, given its population. It had the fourth fewest new loans per capita (only 34,632).

7. New Jersey

New mortgages per capita: 0.00361 (7th)
Outstanding mortgages per capita: 0.1626 (25th)
Delinquency rate: 4.46% (2nd)

New Jersey residents have struggled to pay the mortgages they have. With 4.46% of mortgages more than 60 days past due, it has the second-worst delinquency rate in the country. Its mortgage originations were also pretty low in the second quarter (the 7th lowest).

6. South Carolina

New mortgages per capita: 0.00398 (12th)
Outstanding mortgages per capita: 0.1560 (17th)
Delinquency rate: 3.9% (4th)

Homeownership isn't exactly booming in South Carolina, but the real issue is in repaying the debt: 3.9% of South Carolina's mortgages are 60 days past due.

5. Alabama

New mortgages per capita: 0.00327 (3rd)
Outstanding mortgages per capita: 0.1399 (8th)
Delinquency rate: 2.89% (19th)

Of all the states on this list, Alabama has the lowest delinquency rate. Unfortunately, few people in the state took out home loans in the second quarter, which reflects poorly on the market.

4. Louisiana

New mortgages per capita: 0.00375 (8th)
Outstanding mortgages per capita: 0.1292 (4th)
Delinquency rate: 3.29% (12th)

Louisiana has the fourth lowest ownership rate in the country, and mortgage origination wasn't so hot in the second quarter, either.

3. Florida

New mortgages per capita: 0.00356 (6th)
Outstanding mortgages per capita: 0.1557 (15th)
Delinquency rate: 5.21% (1st)

Florida is a regular headliner in mortgage news, and it's usually not a positive thing. The state was hit particularly hard by the foreclosure crisis, and loan repayment remains a struggle. Florida had the highest share of delinquent accounts in the second quarter: 5.2%.

2. New York

New mortgages per capita: 0.00305 (2nd)
Outstanding mortgages per capita: 0.1239 (2nd)
Delinquency rate: 3.75% (7th)

New York ranks in the bottom 10 in all three categories: the second fewest outstanding mortgages, second fewest new mortgages and seventh highest delinquency rate.

1. Mississippi

New mortgages per capita: 0.00231 (1st)
Outstanding mortgages per capita: 0.1079 (1st)
Delinquency rate: 3.84% (5th)

There are few redeeming things to be said about a state that ranks No. 1 on this list. Homeownership rates are in the toilet in Mississippi (the lowest), and the state had the fewest new mortgages opened in the second quarter (based on population). But look on the bright side: Its 3.84% delinquency rate isn't nearly as bad as Florida's.

Homeowners who are having trouble making their mortgage payments may want to look into other options for refinancing or modifying their home loans, if possible. Late payments and foreclosure can have a big negative impact on your credit scores in addition to your finances, so it's best to seek help or alternatives sooner rather than later. If you've had difficulty with your mortgage and are hoping to rebuild your credit, the best place to start is by looking at your credit reports and credit scores and creating a plan from there.

You can pull your credit reports for free once a year from the major credit reporting agencies through AnnualCreditReport.com. (And Credit.com gives you two of your credit scores for free, updated monthly, along with an overview of your credit profile to show you what areas need improvement, along with a personalized plan to help you build credit.)

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