Number of homes seriously underwater at two-year low
IRVINE, Calif. – April 17, 2014 – RealtyTrac released its U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report for the first quarter of 2014, and it finds that 9.1 million U.S. residential properties were "seriously underwater," where the combined loan amount secured by the property is at least 25 percent higher than the property's estimated market value.
The number represents 17 percent of all properties with a mortgage in the first quarter.
However, the number of underwater homeowners is at its lowest level since RealtyTrac began reporting negative equity in the first quarter of 2012. In the previous quarter, 9.3 million residential properties (19 percent of those with a mortgage) were seriously underwater. One year earlier, 10.9 million residential properties (26 percent) were seriously underwater.
The universe of equity-rich properties – those with at least 50 percent equity – grew to 9.9 million (19 percent of all properties with a mortgage) in the first quarter, up from 9.1 million (18 percent) in fourth quarter 2013.
Another 8.5 million properties (16 percent of all properties with a mortgage) were on the verge of resurfacing in the first quarter, with between 10 percent negative equity and 10 percent positive equity. It was 17 percent one quarter earlier.
Fewer properties in the foreclosure process also had negative equity. Nationwide, 45 percent were seriously underwater, down from 48 percent quarter-to-quarter and 58 percent year-to-year. Conversely, the share of foreclosures with positive equity increased to 35 percent in the first quarter, up from 31 percent in the fourth quarter and up from 24 percent in the third quarter of 2013.
"The relatively high percentage of foreclosures with equity is surprising to many because it would seem homeowners with equity could easily avoid foreclosure by leveraging that equity by refinancing or with an equity sale of the home," says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "But many distressed homeowners with equity may not realize they have equity and in some cases have vacated the property already, assuming that foreclosure is inevitable."
Florida continues to rank high in the percentage of seriously underwater homeowners with a mortgage – 31 percent. It ranks second nationwide to first-place Nevada (34 percent), and it's followed by Illinois (30 percent), Michigan (29 percent) and Ohio (27 percent).
Two Florida cities also make the top-six list for underwater homeowners with a mortgage. Las Vegas tops the list (37 percent) followed by Lakeland, Fla., (36 percent), Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla., (35 percent), Cleveland (35 percent), Akron, Ohio (34 percent), and Detroit (33 percent).
Of Florida homeowners in the foreclosure process, 26 percent have equity, while 59 percent are seriously underwater. The remaining 15 percent are close to the break-even point.
© 2014 Florida Realtors®