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Percentage of US mortgages in forbearance

This recent WSJ article, which is largely about single-family home landlords in the United States, has some interesting charts about mortgaged homes. The following chart shows the percentage of US homes that are worth less than their debt (i.e. they’re underwater). Following the financial crisis, the figure was about a quarter of all mortgaged US homes, and it stayed that way until almost 2012. This percentage surprised me.

The other chart that I’d like to share today shows the percentage of US mortgages in forbearance (i.e. people deferring payments). Not surprisingly, the percentage really increased in April, peaked in early summer, and has since started to seemingly decline. I say seemingly because who knows what this fall/winter will bring. As of September 6, the number was about 3.5 million home loans (or about 7.01%).

The point of the WSJ article is that there are a segment of people who are house-rich, but cash-poor. They have equity that they have built up, but maybe not a lot of cash to weather a storm. That could force some to sell. And it could be a boon for the rental-home landlords, who have been, in many cases, betting on the the suburban rental market since the last recession.

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