Nearly 25% of all mortgages are underwater

By Les Christie, staff writer


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.

"Since we expect home prices to slightly increase during 2010, negative equity will remain the dominant issue in the housing and mortgage markets for some time to come," said Fleming. To top of page


Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.19%4.26%
15 yr fixed3.23%3.27%
5/1 ARM3.34%3.45%
30 yr refi4.17%4.23%
15 yr refi3.21%3.25%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,001.31 18.72 0.11%
Nasdaq 4,457.28 12.37 0.28%
S&P 500 1,979.55 0.64 0.03%
Treasuries 2.48 -0.01 -0.36%
Data as of 12:32pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Frontier Communicati... 6.64 0.70 11.79%
Windstream Holdings ... 11.83 1.30 12.35%
AT&T Inc 36.82 1.17 3.28%
CenturyLink Inc 39.17 1.46 3.87%
Apple Inc 98.55 -0.47 -0.47%
Data as of 12:17pm ET

Sections

UBS is the latest major bank to get sucked into a U.S. probe over 'dark pool' trading venues. More

New annual report from U.S. government shows the long-term prognosis for Medicare has improved thanks to slower health spending, while the outlook for Social Security remains unchanged. More

Amazon's new 3-D Printed Products store offers shoppers over 200 customizable items like toys, jewelry and home decorations. More

These niche sectors are attracting attention -- and, more importantly, money -- from small business lenders. More

Steve Mason, a pastor from California, inherited more than $100,000 in student loan debt when his 27-year-old daughter died suddenly in 2009. With interest and late penalties, the debt has since ballooned to $200,000. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.