Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

20% of mortgages are underwater

By Les Christie, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- More than 20% of the nation's mortgage borrowers owe more than their homes are worth.

At 21.5% for the third quarter, it is a small improvement over the previous quarter, when 23.3% of loans were underwater, according to real estate website Zillow.com.

This so-called negative equity is a hotly watched statistic because it is a prime predictor of foreclosure -- second only to loss of income.

"It is the paramount challenge facing housing markets," said Stan Humphries, Zillow's chief economist. "We already have had record levels of foreclosure and, combined with high unemployment, negative equity is very toxic to the market."

But don't cheer about the slight gains in the past three months. Most of the improvement comes because so many people lost their homes to foreclosure

In some markets, residents were helped by improving home prices. As prices rise, it narrows the gap between what homeowners owe and what they could sell for. As a result, hard-hit metro areas such as Merced, Calif., and Orlando, Fla., recorded huge declines in the number of underwater borrowers. Merced was down to 40% while Orlando fell to 64.6%.

In fact, most markets trended up. Only 25 of 142 markets surveyed lost ground, led by Lansing, Mich., where negative equity grew to 31.5%.

Neighboring Detroit also worsened, jumping up to 31.4%, as did Grand Junction, Colo., where the it grew to 31.2%.

Las Vegas continued to lead the nation, with 73.9% of all mortgage borrowers owing more than their properties are worth. In Phoenix, that total is 66.8%; in Orlando, 64.6%; and in Reno, 61.9%. To top of page


Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.85%4.04%
15 yr fixed3.02%3.15%
5/1 ARM3.05%3.13%
30 yr refi3.93%4.15%
15 yr refi3.06%3.26%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,598.20 -91.66 -0.52%
Nasdaq 5,115.38 -12.90 -0.25%
S&P 500 2,098.04 0.00 0.00%
Treasuries 2.15 -0.06 -2.49%
Data as of 11:54pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 118.44 -2.86 -2.36%
Bank of America Corp... 17.77 -0.11 -0.62%
Frontier Communicati... 5.15 0.43 9.11%
Micron Technology In... 19.00 0.49 2.65%
General Electric Co 25.87 -0.23 -0.88%
Data as of 4:01pm ET

Sections

Five major retailers have agreed to stop selling realistic-looking toy guns in New York state, attorney general Eric Schneiderman said Monday. More

Represented by Teamsters, workers servicing some big Silicon Valley firms demand higher wager and better benefits. More

Candle-Lite is committed to manufacturing in America -- which is a good thing because it contributes more than $300 million to Ohio's economy. More

You can't blame it on the economy anymore. More Millennials now have jobs, but are still living at home. More