Foreclosures are down Graphic

Nearly 8% of U.S. mortgages were at least 30 days past due in April but not yet in foreclosure. That was slightly higher than in March, but 16% more than last year, LPS Applied Analytics, which tracks the mortgage market.

Seriously delinquent loans - more than 90 days past due or already in foreclosure - also represented nearly 8% of loans in April. That was down slightly from March and up 11% from a year ago, LPS says.

 Less delinquency eventually set new housing market recovery, but that's far away. About 4.2 million loans are seriously delinquent or in foreclosure. At current sales rates, which will take four years to absorb the inventory, LPS says.

"There is still much water in the boat, but at least we have connected some of the leaks," says Herb Blecher, senior vice president LPS. "Now we can rescue the company out."

Almost 4 million homes have been repossessed by lenders as the housing market began to tank in 2006.

Falling house prices are more likely to drive late payment. "There are a lot of incentive for people to leave their homes," says IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport.

However, other factors may slow the arrears, including:

 • Fewer new problem loans. For every 100 loans that were current in November, 1.28% due 60 days in April, data show LPS. That's the lowest percentage in at least three years below the peak of almost 3% in January 2009. Rates for new problem loans are the highest in Nevada, Arizona and Florida.

 • Loan modifications. In April, 22.5% of loans were more than 90 days in arrears one year had become current. That figure was 12.6% in April 2010, LPS, said. Last year, nearly 1.8 million homeowners received a loan modification, 42% from 2009, says the hope and the alliance of mortgage servicers, investors and others. loan modifications often include lower interest rates or longer loan terms.

 • Improved quality of loans. Lenders have tightened lending standards for borrowers who receive loans are less likely to default.

 In April, less than 2% of loans in 2010 was delayed after 12 payments. At the same age, over 6% of loans in 2007 and 2008, there were criminals, the data indicate LPS.