Mortgage delinquencies to rise this quarter, then diminish

A new consumer credit forecast indicates the rate of mortgage delinquencies in the country will rise during the first portion of this year but then fall as 2012 progresses.

According to credit bureau TransUnion, the percentage of homeowners who are behind in their mortgage payments by 60 days or more will increase this quarter, peaking at 6.02 percent. Over the balance of the remainder of the year, that rate is expected to decline.

Tim Martin, group vice president of housing for TransUnion's financial services unit, said several factors will lead to this anticipated outcome.

"Although house prices and unemployment will likely face continued pressure," he added, "this forecast calls for gradual improvements in the second half of 2012 to other key variables, like improving credit quality of new originations, consumer confidence and GDP, that will positively influence homeowners' ability and willingness to pay their mortgages."

If mortgage rates continue to stay low, refinancing is one of the ways homeowners can help themselves pay down their mortgages. However, in order to qualify, they will need to have strong credit scores.