Mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures have declined in the first quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The percentage of loans that were delinquent for 90 days or more dropped half a percentage point to 8.1 percent in the first three months of the year, compared to the fourth quarter of 2010.
The share of mortgages in foreclosure fell to 4.52 percent from 4.64 percent in the previous quarter, according to MBA's National Delinquency Survey. New foreclosures dropped from 1.27 to 1.08 percent.
Jay Brinkmann, MBA's chief economist says the numbers are a sign of economic recovery and reflect the recent improvements in the jobs market.
"We have not healed yet but things are looking better than they did last year or the year before," he says.
Some improvement is better than no improvement at all, but considering there were still 6.4 million mortgages either delinquent or in foreclosure in April, according to LPS, and about 14 million people still unemployed, it's fair to say we are very far from recovery.
MBA's survey shows the seasonally adjusted delinquency rate in the first quarter was 8.32 percent, 7 basis points higher in the than in the fourth quarter of 2010.
But as Brinkmann points out, national statistics are "somewhat meaningless in real estate because local market conditions determine values and peoples' perception of values of conditions."
About half of the nation's foreclosure problem is concentrated in five states.
About 23 percent of all mortgages loans that are in foreclosure are in Florida; 11.4 percent are in California; 5.8 percent in Illinois; 5.4 percent in New York and 4.9 percent in New Jersey.
MBA's survey shows 38 states have foreclosure rates that are below the national average.
"We have areas of recovery but those numbers are often overwhelmed by the bad numbers still coming out of a few large states," Brinkmann says.