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Florida Focus: Negative Equity Rate in Tampa Bay is Problematic


While the national negative equity rate continues to fall (down to 18.8 percent, according to the Zillow Q1 2014 Negative Equity Report), many neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay area of Florida are well above that rate. Some areas in Tampa Bay even fall within the highest rates in the country.

Many ZIP codes in the northern and eastern parts of Tampa have negative equity rates above 50 percent among homeowners with mortgages, according to the Zillow report. In the Palm River-Clair Mel section of East Tampa and in Gibsonton on the east side of the bay , 67 percent of homeowners are underwater with their mortgages. The same is true of 65 percent of homeowners in Tampa immediately to the west of Palm River-Clair Mel and adjacent to Palm River-Clair Mel on the north side. Both of those rates fall within the highest 1 percent in the U.S.

Other ZIP codes with a percentage of homeowners underwater on mortgages in the Tampa Bay area include Riverview, directly north of Gibsonton, at 60 percent (which falls within the top 5 percent in the nation); Plant City, east of Tampa, which posted a rate of 57 percent; Ruskin, in the southeast section of the bay, at 58 percent; and ZIP code 33612 in North Tampa at 56 percent. Many neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay are did not reach 50 percent but still posted rates of 40 percent or above.

Despite these high negative equity rates among many neighborhoods in Tampa Bay, some areas did fall below the national rate. Only 17 percent of homeowners who live in the 33629 ZIP code of South Tampa were upside down on their mortgages, according to Zillow. In St. Pete beach, the rate of homeowners who are underwater with their mortgages was down to 16 percent, which was the lowest anywhere in Tampa Bay.

According to Zillow, an average of about one in five homeowners with a mortgage is underwater. The Zillow report states that this high rate that is contributing to inventory shortages and is preventing a full recovery for the housing market. For Q4 in 2013, the nation's "effective" negative equity rate stood at 36.9 percent. This number includes homeowners with a mortgage whose equity in their homes is at 20 percent or below.

The Zillow report for Q1 2014 predicts that the national negative equity rate will continue to fall and will be down to 17 percent by the end of Q1 in 2015.

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.

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