The serious delinquency rate improved last month for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data from Black Knight.

The number of seriously delinquent mortgages (90 or more days past due) fell by 43,000 in September – the first such improvement since the pandemic began, according to Black Knight. The national delinquency rate fell to 6.66% last month, down from 6.88% in August.

Still, more than 2.3 million homeowners – five times the number at the beginning of 2020 – remain 90 or more days past due, but not in foreclosure.

“Please note that our delinquency numbers count all homeowners who have missed payments, whether they are in forbearance or not,” Black Knight said in an email to MPA. “That said, borrowers in forbearance should not have missed payments reported to the credit bureau by their servicers.”

Early-stage delinquencies also showed strong improvement in September, with the number of mortgages current to 30 days past due, as well as the number of borrowers less than 90 days delinquent, having returned to pre-pandemic numbers, Black Knight reported.

Both foreclosure starts and foreclosure sales continue to remain low due to widespread foreclosure moratoria still in place.