Falling home values put record number of mortgages under water

Underwater house

Up to 27 percent of homeowners could be under water on their mortgages. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

It is estimated that a record number of people are now under water on their mortgages because of falling home values. The value of houses nationwide has been steadily sliding downward as foreclosures, unemployment and tight credit take a toll on real estate. Values could continue to fall.

Nearly a third of all mortgages could be under water

Home prices have been falling for the past few years during the recession. Because of continuing foreclosures, high unemployment and fewer homes being sold, the value of houses has continued to trend downward. It is estimated that 27 percent of American homeowners could be under water on their mortgages, meaning payments to the loan company cost more than the home is worth, according to Bloomberg. Real estate information company Zillow released a report stating that more than 15 million home loans were under water. Home prices are estimated to have fallen by almost 6 percent in the last year and almost 3 percent since September, 2010. Values are expected to decline 5 percent more in 2011.

Deceptive decline in foreclosures

Foreclosure activity has been closely watched over the past year in the hopes that a slowing rate of foreclosure would mean a real estate market close to recovering. A decrease in foreclosures occurred in January, but that doesn’t mean that the crisis is over, according to CNN. Because of the “robo-signing” scandal, where foreclosures were initiated by banks without reviewing the paperwork, the foreclosure process has been held up. The number of homes and installment loans foreclosed on will likely increase once the backlog of foreclosure cases in courts and at loan lenders is reduced.

Areas with inflated value still reeling

Areas where real estate values are the highest are still plagued by high foreclosure and rates of negative equity. Nevada, Arizona and California still lead the nation in foreclosure-affected states. Florida, though, has started to improve, falling to ninth place nationally in foreclosure rates.