NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- More bad news on the housing bust front: Nearly 25% of all mortgage borrowers were underwater, meaning they owe more on their loans than their homes are worth.
First American CoreLogic, the research firm that monitors housing equity, reported Tuesday that 11.3 million homeowners -- or 24% of all homes with mortgages -- were underwater as of the end of 2009. That's up from 23% and 10.7 million borrowers three month earlier.
Nevada was the state with the worst record at 70% of all mortgaged properties underwater. That was followed by Arizona (51%), Florida (48%), Michigan (39%) and California (35%).
For many homeowners, being underwater, also know as negative equity, has few consequences. If they're not planning to sell and can afford their monthly bills, they can wait out the downturn.
For others, however, plunging underwater can spell disaster. If they become unemployed or have a financial emergency, they have no equity to tap. Or, if they need to downsize or sell their home to relocate for a job, they can't.
"Negative equity is a significant drag on both the housing market and on economic growth,"said Mark Fleming, chief economist with First American CoreLogic. "It is driving foreclosures and decreasing mobility for millions of homeowners."
Traditionally, being underwater was one of two main factors in determining a borrower's likelihood of foreclosure. The other is having sufficient income to pay bills. But, there's an increasingly important exception: strategic default. As equity gets more and more negative, some homeowners are choosing to quit paying and give the keys to the bank.
As long as negative equity remains a big problem, it will be difficult to stem the tide of foreclosures that continue to plague many local real estate markets around the nation.
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||3.64%||3.64%|
|15 yr fixed||2.76%||2.76%|
|30 yr refi||3.66%||3.69%|
|15 yr refi||2.79%||2.81%|
Today's featured rates:
Coke debuted limited edition "proud to be an American" cans in collaboration with the USO. More
The FBI has opened a national security investigation into the hacking of Bangladesh's central bank amid signs that the hack might have come from North Korea. More
In 1998, Ntsiki Biyela won a scholarship to study wine making. Now she's about to launch her own brand. More
The gender pay gap in the labor market is pretty well documented. But the gender gap also exists in the housing market. More