Falling home prices put more borrowers in a negative equity position, that is owing more on their mortgage(s) than their homes are worth. We call that "underwater," and for good reason, because for some borrowers that sense of drowning in debt has profound implications.
Today Zillow.com reported a new high in negative equity: 28.4 percent of single family homes with a mortgage (remember, 32 percent of all homeowners do not have a mortgage).
That's a national average, but the numbers are far worse in some of the nation's big metros. Atlanta, for example, has a 55.7 percent negative equity rate. Denver, 41 percent, Chicago nearly 46 percent. This is on top of all the foreclosure hot spots like Phoenix, where close to three quarters of all borrowers are underwater.
Why should we care if it's all on paper?
"Higher rates of negative equity are creating a lot of latent vulnerability in the housing stock, where if the household then encounters some economic shock, like the loss of a job or divorce or death, then that household is much, much more likely to go into foreclosure,"
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