Georgia sixth in mortgage delinquencies

Data from the quarterly National Delinquency Survey showed that 16 percent of Georgia mortgage-holders were behind on payments, vs. 14 percent for the nation.

Almost 13 percent of Georgia residential mortgage loans were at least 30 days past due, while another 3 percent were in foreclosure, the survey said.

Georgia’s unemployment rate, which has been just above 10 percent for several months, is one reason so many people are behind, said Simone Griffin, executive director for HomeFree-USA, a nonprofit that works as an intermediary between mortgage lenders and homeowners trying to work their way out of foreclosure or prevent it.

She said as mortgage-holders lost their jobs many were unable to pay their mortgages in a timely manner, if at all. The sour housing market, meanwhile, has hindered people who want to sell and cut their housing costs.

Griffin said loan modifications don't always work. Getting the loan adjusted to fit your reduced income is one thing, but making lifestyle adjustments is a major piece of the puzzle, she said.

“You have to adjust you entire life to what you’re currently making, especially if you have received a home modification,” Griffin said. “A lot of people aren’t able to immediately adapt to that, and that is a big problem.”

Each state, and each lender for that matter, has its own system for foreclosures. In Georgia and just over half the states, foreclosure is a ‘non-judicial" process. That means there is no judge to oversee the system. A lender alerts the property owner that the mortgage is in default, then advertises the intent to sell the property at auction. Once that process starts, in Georgia a house can be sold in as few as 37 days.

Florida has the highest mortgage delinquency rate, with nearly a quarter of its mortgage-holders 30-days or more behind on residential loans. Nevada, Arizona, Mississippi and Michigan are next. California is just behind Georgia.

The 14 percent national delinquency rate includes nearly 10 percent of borrowers behind on mortgages and about 4 percent in the foreclosure process, according to the survey. The overall national rate was just under 10 percent in the same period of 2008, but it had grown to about 13.5 percent by the end of the second quarter.

Both the percentage of loans in foreclosure and the percentage of foreclosures started during the third quarter of 2009 were records, a news release from the Bankers Association said. However, the percentage of loans 30 days past due did not break a record set in 1985, based on data going back to 1972, the release said.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.