More homeowners than ever are working to current on their card accounts even as their mortgages slip into delinquency, according to a survey from the TransUnion credit bureau.
"Conventional wisdom has always been that, when faced with a financial crisis, consumers will pay their secured obligations first, specifically their mortgages," said Sean Reardon, the author of the study and a consultant in TransUnion's analytics and business unit. "However, a recent TransUnion analysis has found that increasingly more consumers are paying their credit cards before making mortgage payments. This analysis reaffirms the results of a previous TransUnion study that examined data between the third quarter of 2006 and the first quarter of 2008."
The percentage of consumers current on credit cards and delinquent on mortgages first surpassed the percentage of consumers current on their mortgages and delinquent on credit cards in the first quarter of 2008, the company reported. This shift is representative of the change in the conventional wisdom around the payment hierarchy, or which debt obligations consumers would choose to pay first, TransUnion added
The study found that the percentage of consumers who are delinquent on their mortgages and current on their credit cards rose to 6.6% in third quarter of 2009, up from 4.3% in the first quarter of 2008. Conversely, the percentage of consumers who are delinquent on their credit cards and current on their mortgages has decreased to 3.6% in the third quarter of 2009, down from 4.1% in the first quarter of 2008.