NEW YORK, March 19 Rising U.S. home prices last
year helped more homeowners get back above water on their
mortgages in the fourth quarter, a fresh sign of improvement in
the housing market, data from CoreLogic showed on Tuesday.
There were 10.4 million homeowners who owed more on their
mortgages than their homes were worth in the final quarter of
2012, down from 10.6 million in the third quarter, said
That accounted for 21.5 percent of all mortgages, down from
22 percent. In 2012, 1.7 million properties returned to positive
The housing market started to recover last year as prices
rose, foreclosures eased and inventories tightened. Economists
expect the sector to continue to gain traction in 2013.
"The scourge of negative equity continues to recede across
the country," Anand Nallathambi, chief executive of CoreLogic,
said in a statement.
"There is certainly more to do, but with fewer borrowers
underwater the fundamentals underpinning the housing market will
continue to strengthen."
Of the 38.1 million homes that were above water, 11.3
million had less than 20 percent equity. Considered to be
"under-equitied," such borrowers can face difficulty getting new
financing for their homes.
Another 2.3 million homes were near negative equity with
less than 5 percent equity, making them vulnerable to a renewed
downturn in home prices.
The average amount of equity for all properties was 31
Nevada had the highest rate of homes underwater at 52.4
percent of homes. Florida came in second at 40.2 percent,
followed by Arizona, Georgia and Michigan. Those top five states
accounted for 32.7 percent of negative equity in the country.