U.S. homes underwater stalls at 9.1 million in second quarter

RealtyTrac has released its U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report for the second quarter of 2014, which shows 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 — representing 17 percent of all properties with a mortgage.

The second quarter of 2014 saw a small percentage decrease in homes that were seriously underwater 17.2 percent versus 17.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014 bringing it to the lowest level since RealtyTrac began reporting negative equity in the first quarter of 2012. The recent peak in negative equity was the second quarter of 2012, when 12.8 million U.S. residential properties representing 29 percent of all properties with a mortgage were seriously underwater.

The universe of equity-rich properties — those with at least 50 percent equity — held steady from the first quarter at 9.9 million in the second quarter of 2014, representing 18.8 percent of all properties with a mortgage.

Another 8.8 million properties were on the verge of resurfacing equity in the second quarter of 2014, with between 10 percent negative equity and 10 percent positive equity, representing 17 percent of all properties with a mortgage, up from 8.5 million representing 16 percent of all properties with a mortgage in the first quarter of 2014. 

Fewer distressed properties had negative equity in the second quarter, with 44 percent of all properties in the foreclosure process seriously underwater — down from 45 percent in the first quarter of 2014 and down from 57 percent in the second quarter of 2013. The share of foreclosures with positive equity decreased to 34 percent in the second quarter, down from 35 percent in the first quarter. Top states for foreclosures with equity include Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Hawaii and Louisiana.

“Home price appreciation has slowed in the last few months in many of the markets with the most underwater homes, slowing the pace at which homeowners are recovering equity lost during the Great Recession,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “For instance, annual home price appreciation in California was at 16 percent in May 2014 compared to a high of 31 percent in July and August of 2013. In Arizona, home price appreciation has slowed to 6 percent annually compared to a high of 24 percent last year.

“In addition many of the properties that are seriously underwater are in a deep negative equity hole that will take some time to dig out of,” Blomquist continued. “The average loan-to-value on the 9.1 million homes seriously underwater was 133 percent, and the average loan-to-value on the homes in foreclosure that are seriously underwater was 134 percent.”

Markets with the most negative equity
States with the highest percentage of residential properties seriously underwater in the second quarter were Nevada (32 percent), Florida (30 percent), Illinois (30 percent), Rhode Island (29 percent) and Michigan (27 percent). 

Major metropolitan statistical areas (population 500,000 or more) with the highest percentage of residential properties seriously underwater were Lakeland, Fla (37 percent), Las Vegas (35 percent), Cleveland (35 percent), Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla (32 percent), Chicago (30 percent), Cape Coral-Fort Meyers, Fla (30 percent), and New Haven-Milford, CT (30 percent).

Markets with the most resurfacing equity
Major metro areas with the highest percentage of resurfacing equity - between negative 10 percent and positive 10 percent – were Colorado Springs, Colo., (28 percent), Albuquerque NM (22 percent), Lancaster, PA (22 percent), El Paso, TX (22 percent), Salt Lake City (22 percent) and Worcester, MA (22 percent).

Markets with the most equity-rich properties
Major metro areas with the highest percentage of equity rich properties - those with at least 50 percent equity - were San Francisco (37 percent), Honolulu (36 percent), Los Angeles (32 percent), New York (29 percent), Oxnard (28 percent), and San Diego (28 percent).

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