CoreLogic® (NYSE: CLGX) on Tuesday reported that, nationally, 4.1% of mortgages were in some stage of delinquency (30 days or more past due, including those in foreclosure) in December 2018, representing a 1.2 percentage point decline in the overall delinquency rate compared with December 2017, when it was 5.3%.

The monthly Loan Performance Insights Report reported that, as of December 2018, the foreclosure inventory rate – which measures the share of mortgages in some stage of the foreclosure process – was 0.4%, down 0.2 percentage points from December 2017. The December 2018 foreclosure inventory rate tied the November 2018 rate as the lowest for any month since at least January 2000.

The rate for early-stage delinquencies – defined as 30 to 59 days past due – was 2% in December 2018, down from 2.4% in December 2017. The share of mortgages that were 60 to 89 days past due in December 2018 was 0.7%, down from 0.8% in December 2017. The serious delinquency rate – defined as 90 days or more past due, including loans in foreclosure – was 1.5% in December 2018, down from 2.1% in December 2017. The serious delinquency rate has been steady at 1.5% since August 2018 – the lowest level for any month since March 2007 when it was also 1.5%.

The share of mortgages that transitioned from current to 30 days past due was 0.9% in December 2018, down from 1.2% in December 2017. By comparison, in January 2007, just before the start of the financial crisis, the current-to-30-day transition rate was 1.2%, while it peaked in November 2008 at 2%.

“Our latest home equity report found that the average homeowner saw a $9,700 increase in their equity during 2018,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “With additional ‘skin in the game,’ rising equity reduces the chances of a foreclosure, helping to push the foreclosure rate down to its lowest level since at least 2000.”

Since the beginning of 2018, the nation's overall delinquency rate has fallen to pre-housing crisis levels, not seen since early 2006. However, several metropolitan areas in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina are still struggling to recover from natural disasters that impacted those areas. In December 2018, 10 out of the 12 metropolitan areas that logged increases in their serious delinquency rate were located in the Southeast, with the largest gains occurring in the Panama City, Florida metropolitan area.

“On a national basis, income and home-price growth continue to support strong loan performance,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Although things look good across most of the nation, areas that were impacted by hurricanes and other natural hazards are experiencing a sharp increase in the numbers of mortgages moving into 60-day delinquency or worse. One specific example is Panama City, Florida, which was devastated by Hurricane Michael, where 60-day delinquencies rose to 3.5% in December.”