LOS ANGELES (AP) — The steady rise in U.S. home values is increasingly motivating homeowners to make paying their mortgage on time a priority, according to a new study.
Credit reporting agency TransUnion said last week that it examined late-payment rates between 2009 and 2012 on mortgages, credit cards and auto loans among consumers with the three types of financial obligations.
The study, which looked at payment data culled from about 20 million consumers a month, found that consumers were more likely to make timely payments on their auto loans ahead of credit cards and home loans.
But through last year, coinciding with a gradual increase in home values, the late-payment rate on mortgages nearly closed the gap with credit cards.
That suggests a return to behavior before the housing bust, when financially distressed borrowers typically prioritized paying their mortgage ahead of credit cards, TransUnion said.
“With continued improvements in housing prices, it’s probable that by the end of 2013 we will see the majority of consumers paying their mortgages ahead of their credit cards,” said Steve Chaouki, a group vice president in TransUnion’s financial services business unit.
During the last recession, many Americans reined in spending in favor of paying off debt, particularly credit card balances. The housing downturn also prompted many homeowners to make paying their credit card accounts on time a priority ahead of other financial obligations, such as their mortgage payments.
Overall, homeowners are doing a better job of making timely mortgage payments. The national late-payment rate on home loans in the second quarter sank to the lowest level in five years.