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COME HELL or high layoffs, Buffalonians pay their mortgages.

On March 31, only 0.31 percent of the area's mortgages were past due 90 days or more, according to a study by San Francisco-based Mortgage Information Corp. That places Buffalo 46th among 73 markets nationwide -- much better than the national average of 0.46 percent, and well below worst-ranked New Haven, Conn., at 1.55 percent.

Three other New York state cities didn't rank as well as Buffalo. Rochester was rated the 19th-worst market, at 0.61 percent; Albany was 14th, at 0.64 percent, and New York City was sixth, with 1.02 percent.

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