The national delinquency rate continued its downward slide in 2012, falling to just over 7% at March 31, down 6% from the month prior, according to new figures compiled by Lender Processing Services (LPS) for its First Look Mortgage Monitor report.

March represents the third consecutive month that the delinquency rate for the 40 million mortgages tracked by LPS declined and sets a new low not seen since August 2008.

Currently, the overall rate of loans 30 or more days past due (but not in foreclosure) is 7.09%. Also, delinquencies are down over the last year by 8.8%, LPS said.

Roughly 3.5 million properties are 30 or more days delinquent but not in foreclosure, while approximately 1.6 million mortgages are 90 or more days past due, but not in foreclosure.

LPS found that the national foreclosure inventory is holding steady at 4.14%, only 0.1% higher than the previous month but down 1.6% year-over-year. LPS said the foreclosure presale inventory is slightly more than 2 million properties.

The states with the greatest ratio of noncurrent loans include Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and Illinois. However, Montana, Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming and North Dakota had the lowest amount of mortgages that were not being paid.

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