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Underwater Mortgages Drop by 3 Percent

Negative equity dropped over the first quarter, with the total value of underwater mortgages declining by more than $283 billion since the start of the year, according to the CoreLogic Q1 2017 Equity Insights Report released on Thursday. The national aggregate value fell 0.9 percent over the quarter and 7.1 percent since Q1 2016.

In total, the number of underwater residential mortgages dropped 3 percent since Q4 2016 and 24 percent over the year. Still, about 3.1 million residential mortgages—or 6.1 percent of all U.S. mortgages—remain underwater as of Q1, according to the report. At their peak in 2009, underwater mortgages accounted for a 26 percent share of all mortgages.

Subsequently, positive equity is on the rise across the country. According to the report, about 9 million borrowers have regained equity since 2017, and 91,000 regained equity in 2017 alone. About 63 percent of all homeowners have seen an increase in equity since Q1 2016, with the average homeowner gaining about $13,400 in equity during that time period.

According to Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, mortgage risk is falling as a result.

“One million borrowers achieved positive equity over the last year, which means mortgage risk continues to steadily decline as a result of increasing home prices,” Nothaft said. “Pockets of concern remain with markets such as Miami, Las Vegas, and Chicago, which are the top three for negative equity among large metros, with each recording a negative equity share at least twice or more the national average.”

Broken down by state, Texas had the highest percentage of positive-equity mortgages as of Q1, with 98.4 percent in the black. The Lone Star State was followed by Utah (98.2 percent), Washington (98.2 percent), Hawaii (98.1 percent), and Colorado (98 percent). Washington saw the highest jump in equity over the year, with an average of $37,900 per homeowner.

According to Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, rising equity also means a stronger overall economy.

“Homeowner equity increased by over $750 billion during the last year, the largest increase since mid-2014,” Martell said. “The rising cushion of home equity is one of the main drivers of improved mortgage performance. It also supports consumer balance sheets, spending, and the broader economy.”


About Author: Aly J. Yale

Aly J. Yale is a longtime writer and editor from Texas. Her resume boasts positions with The Dallas Morning News, NBC, PBS, and various other regional and national publications. She has also worked with both the Five Star Institute and REO Red Book, as well as various other mortgage industry clients on content strategy, blogging, marketing, and more.

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