News Column

Millions of Homeowners No Longer Underwater

Sept. 5, 2013

About 10.7 million, or 23 percent, of U.S. residential home-owners owe at least 25 percent or more on their mortgages than their properties are worth, remaining seriously underwater on their loans, RealtyTrac Inc. is reporting today.

But with housing prices on the rise, another 8.3 million homeowners, or 18 percent, are either slightly underwater or have a slim bit of equity.

That means they are on track by the end of 2014 to be able to sell their properties without taking a loss, the Irvine-based company said.

"Steadily rising home prices are lifting all boats in this housing market and should spill over into more inventory of homes for sale in the coming months," said Daren Blomquist, Realty-Trac's vice president.

That continued housing market recovery is based on the assumption that home prices continue to increase at the rate of 1.33 percent per month, which has been the case since the market bottomed out in March 2012.

In San Joaquin County, known demographically as the Stockton metropolitan area, nearly 43,600 homes, or about one-third, remain seriously underwater. But more than 18,300, or 14 percent, are near break-even. RealtyTrac reported that home prices have risen 27 percent in the county in the past year.

In comparison for California overall, 1.5 million homes, or 20 percent are seriously underwater; while 1 million, or 13 percent, are near break-even. Prices are up an average of 31 percent from a year ago statewide.

RealtyTrac defined near break-even as a home value equal to 90 to 110 percent of the outstanding loan balance.

Blomquist added there is hope even for homeowners who still owe 125 percent or more of their home's value, as about 150,000 each month leave that category.

"Although it will certainly take years rather than months before most of those homeowners have enough equity to sell other than via short sale," he said.


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Source: Copyright Record (Stockton, CA) 2013

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