Underwater Homes Decrease, But The Future Is Still Uncertain

CoreLogic has released new analysis showing more than 300,000 homes returned to positive equity in the first quarter of 2014, bringing the total number of mortgaged residential properties with equity to more than 43 million. The CoreLogic analysis indicates that approximately 6.3 million homes, or 12.7 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage, were still in negative equity as of Q1 2014 compared to 6.6 million homes, or 13.4 percent for the forth quarter of 2013. As a year-over-year comparison, the negative equity share was 20.2 percent, or 9.8 million homes,in the first quarter of 2013.

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.

For the homes in negative equity status, the national aggregate value of negative equity was $383.7 billion at the end of Q1 2014, down $16.9 billion from approximately $400 billion in the fourth quarter 2013.

Of the 43 million residential properties with equity, approximately 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 refinancing their existing home or obtaining new financing to sell and buy another home due to underwriting constraints. Under-equitied mortgages accounted for 20.6 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage nationwide in Q1 2014, 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 if home prices fall.

“Despite the massive improvement in prices and reduction in negative equity over the last few years, many borrowers still lack sufficient equity to move and purchase a home,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist for CoreLogic. “One in five borrowers have less than 10 percent equity in their property, which is not enough to cover the down payment and additional costs associated with a conventional mortgage.”

“Prices continue to rise across most of the country and significantly fewer borrowers are underwater today compared to last year,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “An additional rise in home prices of 5 percent, which we are projecting will occur over the next 12 months, will lift another 1.2 million properties out of the negative equity trap.”

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.