Negative Equity Is Still A Problem

CoreLogic released analysis showing approximately 791,000 more residential properties returned to a state of positive equity during the third quarter of 2013, and the total number of mortgaged residential properties with equity currently stands at 42.6 million. The analysis indicates that nearly 6.4 million homes, or 13 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage, were still in negative equity at the end of the third quarter of 2013.

Nonetheess, this figure is down from 7.2 million homes, or 14.7 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage, at the end of the second quarter of this year. Negative equity, often referred to as “underwater” or “upside down,” means that borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Negative equity can occur because of a decline in value, an increase in mortgage debt or a combination of both.

The national aggregate value of negative equity was $397 billion at the end of the third quarter compared to $430 billion at the end of the second quarter of 2013, a decrease of $33.7 billion. This decrease was driven in large part by an improvement in home prices.

Of the 42.6 million residential properties with positive equity, 10 million have less than 20 percent equity. Borrowers with less than 20 percent equity, referred to as “under-equitied,” may have a more difficult time obtaining new financing for their homes due to underwriting constraints. Under-equitied mortgages accounted for 20.4 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage nationwide in the third quarter of 2013, with more than 1.5 million residential properties at less than 5 percent equity, referred to as near-negative equity. Properties that are near negative equity are considered at risk should home prices fall.

“Rising home prices continued to help homeowners regain their lost equity in the third quarter of 2013,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist  for CoreLogic. “Fewer than 7 million homeowners are underwater, with a total mortgage debt of $1.6 trillion. Negative equity will decline even further in the coming quarters as the housing market continues to improve.”

“We should see a further rebound in consumer confidence and economic growth in 2014 as more homeowners escape the negative equity trap,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Home price appreciation has helped more than 3 million property owners regain equity since the first quarter of 2013.”

About The Author

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Tony Garritano
Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.