National mortgage loan delinquencies are expected to continue a downward slope through this year and next, according to the most recent annual consumer credit forecast by TransUnion. Specifically, the credit rating firm reported that mortgage delinquencies will fall to roughly 5 percent by the end of next year, compared to just under 6 percent in 2011. However, six consecutive declines in the delinquency rate are expected to be stemmed by a rise in the first quarter of 2012. The states of Arizona, Wisconsin and Colorado are expected to experience the largest declines in mortgage delinquencies. "Although house prices and unemployment will likely face continued pressure next year, this forecast calls for gradual improvements in the second half of 2012 to other key variables, like improving credit quality of new originations, consumer confidence and GDP, that will positively influence homeowners' ability and willingness to pay their mortgages," said Tim Martin, group vice president of U.S. housing at TransUnion's financial services unit. Nonetheless, lenders are employing substantial consumer credit risk management policies to protect themselves against the prospect of bankruptcy, foreclosure or insolvency, such has occurred in the years following the burst of the housing bubble.