The relentless slide in home prices has left nearly one in six U.S. homeowners owing more on a mortgage than the home is worth, raising the possibility of a rise in defaults -- the very misfortune that touched off the credit crisis last year.The Wall Street Journal also says that for the Washington, DC area, 33.8% of people who bought in the last 5 years are underwater on their mortgages. According to the Journal, DC area houses have fallen 18.6% since their peak and need to fall another 26.6% to restore historical affordability.
The result of homeowners being "under water" is more pressure on an economy that is already in a downturn. No longer having equity in their homes makes people feel less rich and thus less inclined to shop at the mall.
And having more homeowners under water is likely to mean more eventual foreclosures, because it is hard for borrowers in financial trouble to refinance or sell their homes and pay off their mortgage if their debt exceeds the home's value. A foreclosed home, in turn, tends to lower the value of other homes in its neighborhood.
About 75.5 million U.S. households own the homes they live in. After a housing slump that has pushed values down 30% in some areas, roughly 12 million households, or 16%, owe more than their homes are worth, according to Moody's Economy.com.
The comparable figures were roughly 4% under water in 2006 and 6% last year, says the firm's chief economist, Mark Zandi, who adds that "it is very possible that there will ultimately be more homeowners under water in this period than any time in our history."
Among people who bought within the past five years, it's worse: 29% are under water on their mortgages, according to an estimate by real-estate Web site Zillow.com.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
16% of homeowners are underwater
According to The Wall Street Journal, 1 out of 6 homeowners owe more on their home than it is worth: