Negative equity is still affecting more than one in 10 home owners in the United States five years after the nation’s housing market recovery began, new research shows.
Home owners who owe more than their homes are worth are nearly equally dispersed among urban and suburban communities in most metros across the country, says the latest report from real estate firm Zillow.
But the numbers are falling. Nationally, some 12.1% of mortgaged home owners were underwater in the second quarter of 2016, down from 12.7% in the first three months of the year and below the 14.4% recorded a year ago.
A breakdown of the figures show that 13.7% of owners in urban regions are underwater and 11.2% of those in suburban regions while Cleveland and Detroit have the greatest difference between urban and suburban negative equity rates.
After the housing bubble burst, nearly a third of home owners in the United States were underwater on their mortgages. As the market recovered, many home owners have gained back the lost value on their homes, freeing them to sell or refinance.
In most areas of the country, negative equity is nearly equally spread across urban and suburban areas. In 13 of the nation’s largest metros, the share of urban and suburban homeowners who are underwater is within two percentage points.
But some metros are seeing notable gaps in the share of underwater homeowners between urban and suburban areas. Cleveland and Detroit have the biggest difference between negative equity rates in urban and suburban neighbourhoods at 13.6% and 10.8% respectively. In these metros, home values in the main urban centres are trailing behind the overall region’s recovery, and are still well off from their peak levels.
By contrast, negative equity is equally common among urban and suburban areas in the Seattle area, where a more balanced recovery and strong economic growth have led to home values near or exceeding their bubble peak levels in urban and suburban areas alike.
‘At its worst, negative equity touched all kinds of home owners in all kinds of markets. The type of community a given home was in, urban or suburban, mattered little. Fast forward a few years, and the relative vibrancy of a given community and how it has performed over the past few years, and not necessarily its location in the city or suburbs, matters a great deal,’ said Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell.
For the first time, all of the largest markets in the country now have negative equity rates below 20% and the data shows that Western metros with strong job and housing markets have the lowest rates of negative equity. Less than 5% of mortgaged home owners in San Jose, San Francisco, Portland, Denver, and Dallas are underwater.