Now that the mortgage delinquency numbers for 2011 have been finalized, economists look ahead to the rate for 2012.  Their early conclusion?  Based on current data, the national delinquency rate is expected to decline another 7% by the end of 2012, giving the economy another sigh of relief in a segment that desperately needs it.

According to TransUnion, employment numbers have increased, banks have also started letting credit flow again, albeit with more stringent approval guidelines.  Both will help more borrowers avoid delinquency altogether, helping to improve overall consumer confidence and U.S.GDP.  Since the recession began in 2008, real estate has become the poster child for disappointment, with some states seeing mortgage delinquencies of more than 20%.  An exploding foreclosure rate sent the number of vacant properties soaring; in some markets, banks own nearly as many properties as private parties do; the overall real estate and credit markets have left a stubborn legacy that will likely take years to correct.  New qualification rules and down payment requirements have locked out many buyers who, just four years ago, wouldn’t have had any problem qualifying for a mortgage.

While delinquency in the entire U.S. is expected to fall in 2012, states like California, Florida, and Nevada will likely see an uptick in the number of borrowers falling behind in 2012.  In those markets, economists estimate the delinquency rate could increase in 2012 by nearly 12% over 2011 rates, due mostly due to ongoing unemployment troubles.