Serious Delinquency: Definition, Implications, and Solutions


A serious delinquency refers to a mortgage that is 90 or more days past due and is at high risk of default. When a borrower defaults on a serious delinquency, the lender may initiate foreclosure proceedings. This article explores the concept of serious delinquency, its implications, and how borrowers can potentially avoid foreclosure.

What is a serious delinquency?

A serious delinquency occurs when a single-family mortgage is 90 days or more past due, signaling a high risk of default. Lenders consider a mortgage in serious delinquency when payments are significantly overdue, and it can lead to foreclosure proceedings initiated by the lender.

Understanding serious delinquency

When a borrower faces a serious delinquency, they may have options to work with their lender to resolve the situation. Contacting the lender is crucial for those struggling to make mortgage payments as there might be alternatives to foreclosure that can save time and money for both the borrower and lender.

Some of the potential alternatives include:

  • Forbearance: A temporary pause or reduction in mortgage payments, often granted during financial hardships.
  • Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure: The borrower voluntarily transfers the property to the lender to avoid foreclosure.
  • Loan Modification: Changes made to the terms of the mortgage to make it more affordable for the borrower.
  • Short Refinance: Refinancing the mortgage to make it more manageable for the borrower.

A serious delinquency can also refer to overdue payments in various forms, such as late credit card payments or overdue loans. Each creditor or lender may have its own definition of what constitutes a serious delinquency, but typically, being 30, 60, or 90 days past due is considered serious delinquency.

Statistical data on the number of home mortgages in serious delinquency are tracked by analysis companies like CoreLogic through reports such as the Loan Performance Insights Report. Delinquencies are categorized as early-stage or late-stage delinquencies, providing insights into the overall health of the housing market.

Example of serious delinquency

Let’s illustrate how a serious delinquency can occur with an example:

The Smith Family purchases a home valued at $400,000 with an $80,000 down payment. To cover the remaining $320,000, they secure a mortgage with Fannie Mae. Initially, they make the first few mortgage payments on time. However, their financial situation takes a turn for the worse when both Mr. and Mrs. Smith lose their jobs, making it impossible to continue making mortgage payments.

After missing one month of their mortgage payment, their lender contacts them, issuing an official letter as a warning. When they miss a second month’s payment, another call and letter are sent, cautioning the Smiths about entering serious delinquency status. This status implies that they are at risk of foreclosure if they continue to ignore payments and late payment fees. Once they reach the 90-day mark past due on their mortgage, the Smith Family officially enters serious delinquency, and their mortgage is scheduled for foreclosure. They are notified of their serious delinquency status through phone calls, emails, and official letters.


Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider when dealing with serious delinquency.

  • Potential for mortgage payment relief through forbearance or loan modification.
  • Opportunity to avoid foreclosure by working with the lender on alternative solutions.
  • Negative impact on credit score due to missed payments and serious delinquency status.
  • Possible additional fees and accrued interest.
  • The process can be time-consuming and stressful for borrowers.

Frequently asked questions

What are the consequences of a serious delinquency on my credit score?

A serious delinquency can significantly lower your credit score, making it challenging to secure loans or credit in the future. It remains on your credit history for a considerable time, typically seven years.

How can I avoid serious delinquency on my mortgage?

Contact your lender as soon as you anticipate difficulties in making mortgage payments. Many lenders offer alternatives like forbearance, loan modification, or deed in lieu of foreclosure to help borrowers in financial distress.

What is the difference between early-stage and late-stage delinquencies?

Early-stage delinquencies typically refer to payments that are slightly overdue, while late-stage delinquencies indicate more prolonged and serious payment issues, potentially leading to foreclosure.

What are the legal implications of serious delinquency and foreclosure?

Serious delinquency and foreclosure have legal consequences that vary by jurisdiction. It’s essential to consult with a legal expert or attorney to understand the specific legal implications in your area. These can include potential lawsuits, deficiency judgments, or other legal actions that may affect your financial situation.

Can a serious delinquency be removed from my credit report?

Removing a serious delinquency from your credit report can be challenging. Generally, it remains on your credit history for seven years. However, if the delinquency was reported in error, you can dispute it with the credit reporting agencies. For accurate but negative information, the best course of action is to focus on rebuilding your credit through timely payments and responsible financial behavior.

What assistance programs are available for borrowers facing serious delinquency?

Many government and nonprofit organizations offer assistance programs for struggling homeowners. These programs can provide resources, counseling, or even financial aid to help borrowers in danger of foreclosure. Check with your local housing agency or explore federal programs like the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) to see if you qualify for assistance.

Key takeaways

  • A serious delinquency occurs when a mortgage is 90 or more days overdue, indicating a high risk of default and potential foreclosure.
  • Borrowers facing serious delinquency should contact their lender to explore alternatives to foreclosure, such as forbearance, loan modification, or deed in lieu of foreclosure.
  • Serious delinquency can also apply to overdue payments on credit cards or loans, typically defined as 30, 60, or 90 days past due.
  • Lenders and analysis companies track serious delinquency statistics to assess the health of the housing market.
View article sources
  1. Social Control, Serious Delinquency, and Risky Behavior – Roger Williams University
  2. Unjust Strain and Serious Delinquency – University of Nebraska Omaha
  3. Prevention of Serious Delinquency – Office of Justice Programs
  4. 2023 Personal Loans Industry Study – SuperMoney