Late payments on mortgages rise again in 4th qtr

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NEW YORK (AP) — Late payments on mortgages ticked up in the last three months of 2011, the second straight quarter-to-quarter increase after nearly two years of steady decline.

The credit reporting agency TransUnion says 6.01 percent of mortgage holders were behind on their payments by 60 days or more in the October-to-December period. That compared with 5.88 percent for the third quarter of 2011.

TransUnion says the uptick in part reflects a return to seasonal patterns that historically showed a higher rate of late payments at the end of the year. The rate is down from 6.41 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.

But it also shows that homeowners are continuing to struggle, and the rate won’t likely get back down to its normal 2 percent until housing prices recover.