Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Late Mortgage Payments Dip as Economy Grows Stronger

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Late Mortgage Payments Dip as Economy Grows Stronger

Article excerpt

The number of mortgage payments by Florida homeowners that were

30 days or more late dropped slightly in the first quarter,

after inching up in the third and fourth quarters of last year.

It is an article of faith among bankers that homeowners may

skip other debt payments, but will make the mortgage payment

come-what-may. So the late payment numbers are considered an

important indicator of consumer financial health.

The Mortgage Bankers Association of America, which tracks

these numbers, reports that 4.5 percent of mortgages in Florida

were paid late in the first quarter, compared to 5.28 percent in

the fourth quarter of last year and 5.04 percent in the third.

The number of mortgage payments just 30 days late -- typically

the first sign that people are having problems paying their

mortgage -- also declined slightly during the period.

The numbers were also better than they were during the same

period last year. "People are doing a good job of keeping

current on their home payments, said Lynn Reaser, chief

economist for Barnett Banks Inc.

Reaser says there are three factors helping the numbers.

"No. 1, lenders have been more conservative throughout this

[economic] cycle about extending credit for home purchases,"

Reaser said.

"No. 2, the very healthy economy."

"No. 3, the continuing increase in home values has also

encouraged people to stay current on their payments," she said.

Jacksonville financial institutions continue adding new outlets

for their products. Jax Navy Federal Credit Union is opening a

new branch today on the Northside in Rutgers Plaza, 1680 Dunn

Ave. The 5,200-square-foot office will have a staff of six

tellers, four member services staff and a branch manager.

Next month Barnett Bank opens two in-store branches in Publix

Super Markets at 9100 Merrill at Gilmore Heights and at 5 TPC

Blvd in Ponte Vedra, bringing to 12 the number of in-store

branches in the Jacksonville area.

Meanwhile, Compass Bank opened a 3,000-square-foot branch with

five employees last month at Beach Boulevard and San Pablo Road. …

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