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Pay the mortgage on time, every time

Published: Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013 6:59 a.m. CST

(MCT) — There are occasional, telling glimpses of improvements to the economy that should be considered welcome news. One happened this week and it applies to a lot of people you know. Perhaps even you.

Homeowners are apparently doing a better job of paying their mortgages on time. It’s a trend that brought down the national late-payment rate on home loans in the second quarter to the lowest level in five years.

If you’ll recall just a few short years ago, it was the collapse of such ability, and the housing market in general, that put us in the throes of recession.

Maybe we’re learning as we go?

Past generations know what we’re talking about. They were raised in an era when paying bills meant paying them, not putting them on credit cards to be paid later. The idea then was to take on no more debt burden than you had money to cover.

That should still be the idea, but somewhere along the line, easy credit and have-to-have toys derailed our reality. We started wracking up bills that many of us could never pay off. It affected, among other things, our ability to pay for our homes, which is traditionally the first and biggest bill we pay each month.

People went into arrears, faced foreclosure, and in some cases lost properties and life savings. It hasn’t been pretty, and it has been pretty much across the land.

That is, until recent months, when we’ve seen signs the housing industry is rebounding, foreclosure rates are going down and buying ability is gaining a foothold.

The percentage of mortgage holders at least two months behind on their payments fell in the April-June quarter to 4.09 percent from 5.49 percent a year earlier, credit reporting agency TransUnion said Tuesday.

The last time the mortgage delinquency rate was lower was the third quarter of 2008, a bleak period of American financial history.

Still, the mortgage delinquency rate is above the 1 percent to 2 percent average historical range, an indication that many homeowners still are struggling to make payments.

It is our hope that we’ve all learned lessons of the past, and rule No. 1 is, don’t get more of a house than you can afford.

So much of the rest of the economy depends on the strength of housing. It cannot be understated the significance of keeping people in their homes and keeping that industry alive and well.

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This editorial first appeared in The Telegraph, Alton, Ill.

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©2013 The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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