23 Percent of Borrowers Underwater
with $750 Billion Dollars of Negative Equity
PROPOSED DOWN PAYMENT RULES WILL
IMPACT ALREADY HARD-HIT STATES
March 8, 2011
CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX), a leading provider of information, analytics and business services, today released negative equity data showing that 11.1 million, or 23.1 percent, of all residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity at the end of the fourth quarter of 2010, up from 10.8 million, or 22.5 percent, in the third quarter. The small increase reflects the price declines that occurred during the fourth quarter and led to lower values. An additional 2.4 million borrowers had less than five percent equity, referred to as near-negative equity, in the fourth quarter. Together, negative equity and near-negative equity mortgages accounted for 27.9 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage nationwide.
Negative equity, often referred to as “underwater” or “upside down,” means that borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Negative equity can occur because of a decline in value, an increase in mortgage debt or a combination of both.
The consensus is that home prices will fall another 5 percent to 10 percent in 2011. If so, the most that negative equity will rise is another 10 percentage points, all else equal. What’s important is not just the share of at-risk loans (i.e., loans with less than 10 percent equity) but current price movements. At the safe end of the spectrum, New York, North Dakota and Hawaii have very low shares of at risk loans (less than 7 percent) and prices are still increasing, so the risk is minimal. Colorado, Tennessee and North Carolina appear to be the riskiest because they each have the largest percent of loans at risk (16 percent or more). However, each is only experiencing moderate price declines so the impact in these states will be small to moderate. Given price declines, the largest risk to future increases in negative equity lies in Alabama, Idaho, and Oregon which have a high share of loans that are near negative equity and rapid home price depreciation.
The aggregate level of negative equity increased to $751 billion in Q4, up from $744 billion last quarter but still below $800 billion a year ago. Over $450 billion of the aggregate negative equity dollars include borrowers who are upside down by more than 50 percent. Complete Report