Although a majority of distressed homeowners are plagued by mortgages that far exceed the actual value of their homes, the number of homeowners with underwater mortgages is shrinking, according to Black Knight Financial Services’ latest Mortgage Monitor Report.
The mortgage industry technology and data analytics provider said that 77 percent of borrowers in foreclosure have underwater mortgages, and about a third of borrowers in active foreclosure have current loan-to-value ratios of 150 or more, meaning they owe 50 percent more than their homes are actually worth.
But the number of homeowners in negative equity positions has shrunk by 1.6 million in the last year, Black Knight said. In addition, negative equity distribution varies considerably depending upon geographical location and home values within a given market.
The top five states by percentage of borrowers underwater are Nevada (16.4 percent), Florida (15.1 percent), Maryland (14 percent), Illinois and New Jersey (13.7 percent). Florida and California account for 26.5 percent of the nation’s underwater population, and Florida alone makes up approximately 16 percent.
Of the 10 states with the highest levels of negative equity entering 2014, Missouri and Georgia have seen the greatest improvement, with underwater populations shrinking 47 and 43 percent respectively in those states. Only West Virginia and South Dakota saw increased negative equity over the past 12 months, rising from 7.6 to 8.3 percent and from 1.9 to 2 percent, respectively.
Overall, only about 8 percent of all borrowers are currently underwater on their mortgages, but we have seen a 30-percent reduction in the negative equity rate since this time last year, Black Knight said. Lower-value homes continue to struggle with negative equity and are nine times more likely to be underwater than homes in the top-20 percent value category.