When the housing bubble burst, the financial crisis hit homeowners hard.  Homeowners in communities across the nation saw their home values plummet, falling below their purchase price and even their current mortgage balance.  This is something called negative equity, a state when homeowners owe more on their home than it is worth.

Job loss caused some homeowners to lose their houses to foreclosure while others made the decision to walk away from their homes and voluntarily foreclose or short sell, feeling that they would never return to positive equity.  This is a bit of a doom and gloom outlook on life but it was their reality.  Today’s reality is that more homeowners are making the transition from negative equity to positive equity as time passes.

CoreLogic, a property information, analytics and services provider, maintains a database of 48 million mortgaged properties in the United States.  During the third quarter of 2012, CoreLogic reported that approximately 100,000 homeowners climbed out of negative equity into positive equity, bringing the year-to-date total to 1.4 million.  

CoreLogic’s database represents more than 85 percent of mortgaged property in the United States and so their data is promising for an overall housing recovery.

The top five states with homeowners facing an underwater mortgage include:

  1. Nevada – 56.9 percent
  2. Florida – 42.1 percent
  3. Arizona – 38.6 percent
  4. Georgia – 35.6 percent
  5. Michigan – 32 percent

According to CoreLogic, these five states represent more than one-third of all underwater mortgages in the nation.  

Other highlights from CoreLogic’s Q3 2012 report include:

  • 6.6 million underwater borrowers do not have a second mortgage lien on their property and homeowners are underwater an average of $49,000 on a $214,000 average mortgage
  • 4.1 million underwater borrows have first and second liens with an average total mortgage balance of $298,000 with $82,000 underwater
  • 17.1 million borrowers are eligible for Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) refinances
  • 4.6 million borrowers are eligible for HARP 2.0 refinances, these homeowners can qualify with a loan-to-value ratio of higher than 125 percent
  • 1.8 million borrowers were only 5 percent underwater and may return to positive equity in the next year
Overall, the news is good in this report but it is still sobering.  These figures come years after the housing bubble burst but millions of homeowners are still on a long road to positive equity if they do nothing but pay regular mortgage payments and wait for home values to rise.

Map: CoreLogic 

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