About 2.5 million homes no longer underwater – Economic Report – MarketWatch

2.5 million homes are no longer underwater, CoreLogic data show. But we’re not on dryland yet.

About 2.5 million homes swung to positive equity in the second quarter of 2013. That means that these home owners no longer owed more on a mortgage than the home was worth, according to a report from CoreLogic, an Irvine, California-based analysis firm. At the end of the second quarter, 14.5% of all mortgaged residential properties had negative equity, compared with 19.7% at the end of the first quarter.

There are still millions of underwater homes — about 7.1 million at the end of the second quarter. And more than 10 million other homes that have slim equity levels, meaning that it would be difficult for borrowers to qualify to refinance and make their homes more affordable. (Don’t discard the possibility of refinancing without consulting a lender, however. There are a number of programs still out there that can help.)

Overall, the CoreLogic report paints a picture of a national housing market that is seeing uneven recovery. For one, higher valued homes are more likely to have equity.

Also, certain areas continue to be much worse off than others. Just five states — Nevada, Florida, Arizona, Michigan and Georgia — accounted for 35% of all U.S. negative equity in the second quarter. Among those five states, Nevada is having the toughest time: 36% of all mortgaged homes there had negative equity.

The Greater Phoenix housing area in Arizona has had an over 30% gain in home prices in the last year. But it still has to gain nearly 50% more to get to the peak of its boom home prices.

Looking forward, there are signs that rapidly rising home price increases are starting to moderate, a trend that means homeowners’ gains in equity will also slow down. In other words, we’re not out of on dryland yet.

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