The number of Winston-Salem-area homeowners late on their mortgage payments rose slightly during the fourth quarter, according to a report released by CoreLogic.

The rate was 4 percent in Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Stokes and Yadkin counties, up from 3.9 percent in the third quarter, but down from 4.62 percent a year ago.

The national real-estate research company’s report focuses on the delinquent mortgage market, with “delinquent” defined as being at least 30 days overdue on payment.

The rate was 0.8 percent for mortgage payments more than 90 days past due, unchanged from the third quarter and down from 1.07 percent a year ago. Both figures include homes in the foreclosure pipeline.

Economists say housing markets and lenders are benefiting from more homeowners being able to stay current on their monthly mortgage payments, in part because of an increase in employer hiring.

There also has been an upswing, both locally and nationally, in private-equity groups buying homes and then renting them out as they await higher home prices.

For the Greensboro-High Point MSA, the 30-day delinquency rate was 3.44 percent, down from 3.57 in third quarter and down from 4.4 percent a year ago. The delinquency rate of more than 90 days was 0.83 percent, unchanged from the third quarter and down from 1.18 percent a year ago.

Attom Data Solutions reported Feb. 9 that the number of Winston-Salem area households considered as seriously underwater on their mortgages rose slightly during the fourth quarter.

Attom, which compiles real-estate data, also determined that slightly more area homeowners are in the equity-rich stage toward paying off their mortgage. 336-727-7376 @rcraverWSJ

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