The most recent national mortgage delinquency rate, announced today by credit bureau TransUnion, shows a quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year decline.

The rate of borrowers 60 days or more late on mortgage payments dropped to 5.41% for the third quarter of 2012, slightly lower than the second quarter's 5.49%. Compared to 2011's third quarter, these newest numbers reflect an 8% drop in the delinquency rate.

Mortgage delinquency rates continue to vary drastically on a state-by-state basis. More than 13% of mortgage owners in Florida are late in their payments, compared to just 1.44% in North Dakota.

"Continued declines in mortgage delinquency rates are a welcome sign and reflect that relatively more homeowners are able and willing to make their mortgage payments each month," said Tim Martin, group vice president of U.S. Housing in TransUnion's financial services business unit. Martin said, however, that American mortgage owners still have a long way to go before rates drop to historical ranges of 1% to 2%.

Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, TransUnion expects delinquency rates to continue to drop, despite income squeezes from the holiday season. Year-end delinquency rate forecast are estimated to come in around 5.3%.