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Feb-23-2010 11:11printcomments

Underwater Mortgages On the Rise

In Salem, 16.0 percent, or 10,897, of all residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity for Q4 2009., according to First American CoreLogic Q4 2009 Negative Equity Data.

Mortgage Underwater
Courtesy: noteinvestor.com

(SALEM, Ore.) - First American CoreLogic reported today that more than 11.3 million, or 24 percent, of all residential properties with mortgages were in negative equity at the end of the fourth quarter of 2009, up from 10.7 million and 23 percent at the end of the third quarter of 2009.

An additional 2.3 million mortgages were approaching negative equity at the end of last year, meaning they had less than five percent equity. Together, negative equity and near-negative equity mortgages accounted for nearly 29 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage nationwide.

Negative equity, often referred to as "underwater" or "upside down," means that borrowers owe more on their mortgage 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.

In Salem, 16.0 percent, or 10,897, of all residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity for Q4 2009. An additional 6.8 percent, or 4,633, were in near negative equity in Salem.

National Data Highlights

* Negative equity continues to be concentrated in five states: Nevada, which had the highest percentage negative equity with 70 percent of all of its mortgage properties underwater, followed by Arizona (51 percent), Florida (48 percent), Michigan (39 percent) and California (35 percent). Among the top five states, the average negative equity share was 42 percent, compared to 15 percent for the remaining states. In numerical terms, California (2.4 million) and Florida (2.2 million) had the largest number of negative equity mortgages accounting for 4.6 million, or 41 percent, of all negative equity loans.

* The net increase in the number of negative equity borrowers in Q4 2009 was 620,000, with the largest percentage increases occurring in Nevada, Georgia and Arizona. Among the states with the highest negative equity shares, California had the smallest increase in the negative equity share, which only rose 0.4 percent to 35.1 percent. In numerical terms, Florida had the largest increase in the number of negative equity borrowers rising by more than 141,000, followed by Georgia (65,000) and Illinois (55,000).

* The rise in negative equity is closely tied to increases in pre-foreclosure activity and is a major factor in changing homeowner default behavior. Once negative equity exceeds 25 percent, or the mortgage balance is $70,000 higher than the current property values, owners begin to default with the same propensity as investors.

* The aggregate dollar value of negative equity was $801 billion, up $55 billion from $746 billion in Q3 2009. The average equity for an underwater borrower in Q4 was -$70,700, up from -$69,700 in Q3 2009. The segment of borrowers that are 25 percent or more in negative equity account for over $660 billion in aggregate negative equity.

* Of the over 47 million homeowners with a mortgage, the average loan to value ratio (LTV) is 70 percent. More than 23 million, or 49 percent, of all homeowners with a mortgage have at least 25 percent equity in their home, and over 12 million have at least 50 percent equity in their home.

"Negative equity is a significant drag on both the housing market and on economic growth. It is driving foreclosures and decreasing mobility for millions of homeowners," said Mark Fleming, chief economist with First American CoreLogic. "Since we expect home prices to slightly increase during 2010, negative equity will remain the dominant issue in the housing and mortgage markets for some time to come."

Methodology*:

First American CoreLogic's data includes 47 million properties with a mortgage, which accounts for over 85 percent of all mortgages in the U.S.* First American CoreLogic used its public record data as the source of the mortgage debt outstanding (MDO) and it includes 1st mortgage liens and junior mortgage liens and is adjusted for amortization and home equity utilization in order to capture the true level of mortgage debt outstanding for each property. The current value was estimated by using the First American CoreLogic Automated Valuation Models (AVM) for residential properties. The data was filtered to include only properties valued between $30,000 and $30 million because AVM accuracy tends to quickly worsen outside of this value range.

The amount of equity for each property was determined by subtracting the property's estimated current value from the mortgage debt outstanding. If the mortgage debt was greater than the estimated value, then the property is in a negative equity position. The data was created at the property level and aggregated to higher levels of geography.

* Only data for mortgaged residential properties that have an AVM value is presented. There are several states where the public record, AVM or mortgage coverage is thin. Although coverage is thin, these states account for fewer than 5 percent of the total population of the U.S.

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Source: First American CoreLogic




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