A for sale sign lays on the ground in front of a foreclosed home in Homestead, Fla.
The number of Ohio homeowners who owed more on their home loans than their homes were worth decreased from September to December, according to a new report by real estate data firm RealtyTrac Inc.
A total of 555,277 homes, or 28 percent of all Ohio homes with a mortgage, were “deeply underwater” at the end of December, according to RealtyTrac, based in Irvine, Calif. That placed Ohio sixth among states with the highest percentage of residential properties that were deeply underwater.
Ohio also was sixth in September with 31 percent of homes with a mortgage considered deeply underwater.
In Michigan, the number of deeply underwater homes in December totaled 414,629, or 31 percent, which was the fourth-highest figure for any state. That was down from 38 percent in September, when Michigan also ranked fourth nationally.
RealtyTrac defines “deeply underwater” as owing at least 25 percent more than the estimated market value of a property.
Nationally, the number of deeply underwater homes totaled 9.3 million in December, or 19 percent of all homes with a mortgage. That was down from 10.7 million properties, or 23 percent, in September and down from 10.9 million properties in January, 2013.
The states with the highest percentage of deeply underwater homes in December were Nevada (38 percent), Florida (34 percent), Illinois (32 percent), Michigan, Missouri (28 percent), and Ohio.
Nationwide, the number of deeply underwater homes peaked in May, 2012, at 12.8 million, RealtyTrac said.
“During the housing downturn, we saw a downward spiral of falling home prices resulting in rising negative equity, which in turn put millions of homeowners at higher risk for foreclosure when they encountered a trigger event such as job loss,” Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said. “Now we are seeing the reverse trend: rising home prices resulting in falling negative equity, which in turn is giving millions of homeowners a lifeline to avoid foreclosure when they encounter a trigger event.”
However, Mr. Blomquist said that there still are millions of homeowners who are in such a deep equity hole that it will take years for them to regain their home equity. “The longer these homeowners remain in a negative equity position without relief in the form of a principal loan balance reduction, the more likely that foreclosure will become the path of least resistance for them,” he said.
In its report, RealtyTrac also ranked the top 50 metro areas with the worst underwater mortgage problems. Las Vegas had the highest percentage of properties that were deeply underwater at 41 percent. It was followed by Orlando, Fla. (36 percent), Detroit (35 percent), Tampa (35 percent), Miami (33 percent), and Chicago (33 percent).
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