According to the credit bureau TransUnion, consumers are putting mortgages at the top of their list when it comes to debt priorities. A recent report by the credit reporting agency found that 30-day mortgage delinquency rates have fallen far below credit card delinquencies, a sharp contrast from the recession.
The negative effects of a foreclosure or short sale were widely advertised in the wake of the housing crisis, and consumers are now realizing how big of an impact a delinquent mortgage has on their future financial picture. TransUnion’s vice president of research, Toni Guitart, said: “We did see a big change in the traditional payment hierarchy during the recession.”
But as the real estate market has found more stability in 2013, including rising prices that have helped some previously underwater home owners gain enough equity in their homes to potentially sell, home owners have reorganized their debt priorities with mortgages on top.
TransUnion recently conducted a study that showed a direct correlation between home price movement (for better or worse) and mortgage payments. For home owners who were upside down in their properties during the recession, the decision not to make their housing payment hinged on frustration. Instead, they focused their attention on other kinds of debt like credit card or car payments.
Guitart adds: “Consumers would make payments on their credit cards more so than on their mortgages because that was associated with the big decline in housing markets. But now over the past year, the amount of consumers that are paying mortgages over credit cards has reversed to the traditional payment hierarchy.”
When the housing bubble burst, it was a big shock for many home owners. Many obtained adjustable rate mortgages and watched their payments balloon into something they couldn’t afford while their homes plummeted in value. But now that the real estate market is finally stable once again, home owners are rethinking their priorities when it comes to debt.
Steve Chaouki, group vice president for TransUnion’s financial services business unit, said: “We had previously determined that, beginning in 2008, consumers had a higher propensity to go delinquent on their mortgages than on their credit cards—a reversal of traditional payment patterns.”
The gap between delinquency rates for mortgages and credit cards has narrowed considerably. Delinquency rates now sit at 1.91 percent and 1.82 percent respectively.