Household Debt Hits New High in 1st Quarter 2018, But Credit Inquiries are Down

Household debt, including mortgages, credit cards and auto loans, hit a new peak in the first quarter of 2018, beating the old high set on the eve of the financial crisis in the third quarter of 2008, according to the latest figures from the New York Federal Reserve.

As of March 31, 2018, total household indebtedness was $13.21 trillion, a $63 billion (0.5 percent) increase from the fourth quarter of 2017. Overall household debt is now 18.5 percent above the low registered in the second-quarter of 2013.

Mortgage balances, the largest component of household debt, increased somewhat but remained mostly flat. Mortgage balances shown on consumer credit reports on March 31 stood at $8.94 trillion, an increase of $57 billion from the fourth quarter of 2017. Balances on home equity lines of credit (HELOC), however, continued their downward trend, declining by $8 billion, and are now at $436 billion.

Non-housing balances saw a $14 billion increase in the first quarter. Auto loans grew by $8 billion. Student loan balances increased by $29 billion and credit cards declined by $19 billion.

The New York Fed said the median credit score of newly originating borrowers increased for mortgages, from 755 to 761. For auto loan originators,the median score was roughly flat, increasing by a single point to 708.

The number of credit inquiries within the past six months – an indicator of consumer credit demand – declined in the first quarter to the lowest level seen in the history of the New York Fed’s quarterly update of household date.

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