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.

30% of mortgages are underwater

The foreclosure crisis heats up as more homeowners fall underwater on loans. By Les Christie, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Sometime, somehow, the foreclosure crisis will ease. But probably not anytime soon.

Home prices dropped 2.6% nationwide during the last three months of 2010, pushing more borrowers underwater, according to a quarterly real estate market survey from Zillow.com.

Now 27% of homeowners with mortgages owe more than their homes are worth. That's up from 23.2% a quarter earlier.

That will surely lead to higher foreclosure rates soon. That's because being underwater is second only to unaffordable payments in leading to foreclosure, according to Zillow's chief economist, Stan Humphries.

Additionally, the report found that more than one-third of all homes were sold at a loss in December. That trend has been on a steady uptick for the past six months, as homeowners try to find ways around foreclosure or out from under their homes.

The so-called "robo-signing" events of the fall also forced the number of underwater mortgages higher.

When banks' foreclosure paperwork came under scrutiny, many halted all repossessions until they could straighten things out. With foreclosures no longer being cleaned out of the system, more homes stayed underwater rather than moving on to foreclosure.

The moratoriums have been only temporary, however, and the defaults that had been stopped up in the foreclosure pipeline could come out in a gush over the next few months.

And any bump in the number of foreclosures adds to the likelihood that more homes will be dumped onto an already bloated market. That would just further depress home prices, continuing the vicious cycle that has plagued the industry for several years. To top of page


Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.83%3.86%
15 yr fixed2.95%2.94%
5/1 ARM3.13%3.05%
30 yr refi3.95%3.98%
15 yr refi3.05%3.05%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
  • Find Homes for sale
    Real estate and homes for sale on Trulia

  • Property Type
  • Find a home in: New York | Atlanta | Chicago | Los Angeles
  • Washington D.C | Houston | Philadelphia | More options
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,643.01 -11.76 -0.07%
Nasdaq 4,828.33 15.62 0.32%
S&P 500 1,988.87 1.21 0.06%
Treasuries 2.19 0.02 0.83%
Data as of 4:39am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Freeport-McMoRan Inc... 10.50 0.31 3.04%
Bank of America Corp... 16.36 -0.08 -0.49%
Apple Inc 113.29 0.37 0.33%
Intel Corp 28.42 0.70 2.53%
Alcoa Inc 9.41 0.55 6.21%
Data as of Aug 28

Sections

Efforts to unionize low-wage employees of fast-food franchisees and outside contractors get lift from decision of NLRB. More

After Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans had to reinvent the way it manages water and protects itself from future storms. More

The market volatility in China and the U.S. could hit private companies, especially late-stage unicorns. More

How do you run a successful crowdfunding campaign? Indiegogo's CEO Slava Rubin offers his top tips and mistakes to avoid. More

Mom and pop investors are dumping their investments and moving to cash at levels not seen since the financial crisis of 2008. More