After years of bad news, foreclosures, awful stories of homeowners having to abandon homes and mortgages they couldn’t afford, we are now seeing some good news come out of the home-lending world.

TransUnion, one of the major credit-reporting agencies, recently looked at how Americans have been keeping up with their mortgage payments and found that mortgage delinquencies dropped 20% in the past year. A mortgage delinquency, in layman’s terms, is when a borrower is more than 60 days past due on their mortgage payment. TransUnion found that Americans overall are doing a better job of staying on top of their mortgage payments.

Here are a couple of other points from the TransUnion data:

  • Millennials led the overall decline in mortgage delinquencies as borrowers under the age of 30 saw a yearly drop of 26.9% in mortgage delinquencies.
  • All of the top 10 largest metro areas and all but two states saw double-digit declines this year in seriously delinquent balances.
  • Miami’s delinquencies dropped 40% and Los Angeles’ took a 29% dive!
  • Mortgage originations increased nearly 40%, so more Americans are jumping into the housing market.
  • The greatest growth in new mortgages was in the prime plus and super prime categories (meaning folks with great credit that banks consider lower risk).

So what does this mean for the average American? A few things. Missing a mortgage payment has consequences:

  • You may have to pay a late-payment fee to your mortgage servicer. This can be a big burden on your finances if you consistently miss payments. A 5% fee on a $2,000 monthly payment, for example, is $100.
  • You risk losing your home in a foreclosure, which has an additional negative effect on your credit.
  • Your credit will take a dive, making it much more difficult to get a mortgage or other types of credit down the road. Your payment history is the most important factor in your credit scores.

More Americans are becoming better educated and aware of their credit and using what they’ve learned to improve their credit scores and personal finances. Financial trouble, especially being delinquent on your mortgage, can be very stressful, discouraging, and downright destructive.

I once suffered from bad credit after a divorce and had to repair and rebuild my own credit and finances, and I’m now a credit coach. The first step is knowing where you stand and then figuring out what you need to do to rebuild. You can check your credit scores for free every month on to see where you stand.