How Many Homes are Still Underwater?

by Reno Manuele

Negative equity remains a problem in the U.S. housing market, but as new research by CoreLogic shows, the situation is improving.


Riding the wave of home-price increases, roughly 200,000 residential properties returned to a state of positive equity in 2012’s fourth quarter, according to the latest analysis from research firm CoreLogic.

For all of 2012, 1.7 million mortgaged properties re-entered positive equity, and with home prices rising as aggressively as they have in some markets, that’s not entirely surprising; according to CoreLogic’s own Home Price Index, prices were up nearly 10 percent nationwide in January.

Even with those gains, though, a substantial number of properties remain in negative equity. At the end of 2012, CoreLogic estimates that 10.4 million mortgaged homes were still underwater, or 21.5 percent of all mortgaged residences.

Here in Chicago, the situation has been a gradually improving one, said Frank DeNovi, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s director of REO services.

“This is a very slow process and I do not see us out of the woods for a while yet,” DeNovi said. “We are probably a year or so behind the national curve, due to us being a judicial state.”

And though home prices have been rising, mostly on account of low inventory and investor/Gen X homebuyer activity, DeNovi is still preaching caution.

“It’s still a very fragile situation,” he said. “Should interest rates rise, it could really throw a wrench in the recovery.”

But where does the Chicagoland area fall, amongst the national average and other major metropolitan areas? See our infographic below to find out:

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