U.S. Households’ Mortgage Debt Rises to Four-Year High, Fed Says

  • More home-loan debt sends total borrowing to highest since ’09
  • Growth slows in auto loans, credit-card balances, student debt

U.S. Housing Looks Solid, Will It Continue?

Increased mortgage borrowing was behind a 1.1 percent rise in U.S. household debt in the first quarter, with slowdowns in other areas such as credit-card balances and auto loans, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Total mortgage debt rose 1.5 percent from the final quarter of 2015 to $8.37 trillion, marking the highest level since the third quarter of 2011, according to the New York Fed’s quarterly report on household debt and credit, released Tuesday. Auto-loan debt rose to a record high of $1.07 trillion in data going back to 2003, but logged the smallest percentage increase since 2012.

“Delinquency rates and the overall quality of outstanding debt continue to improve,” Wilbert van der Klaauw, senior vice president at the New York Fed, said in a statement.

Five percent of outstanding debt was in some stage of delinquency, the lowest amount since the second quarter of 2007, the New York Fed said.

Credit-card balances fell in the first quarter from the previous period, but were up 4.1 percent from a year earlier. Student-loan debt rose to a record high of $1.26 trillion, but the 6.1 percent rise from a year earlier marked the slowest pace of growth on record in the data.

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