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Price gains lift 1.7 million homes above water in 2012

CoreLogic: 10.4 million borrowers still owe more than homes are worth

Rising prices helped lift 1.7 million homes above water in 2012, including 200,000 in the final three months of the year, according to a report released today by real estate data and technology firm CoreLogic. An estimated 10.4 million homes remained underwater as of Dec. 31 -- about one in five (21.5 percent) of all homes with mortgages. But another 5 percent gain in home prices could lift 1.8 million additional homes into a state of positive equity, CoreLogic said.  In aggregate, total negative equity nationwide fell $42 billion last quarter to $628 billion, with just over half that amount consisting of first liens with home equity loans. The average amount of equity for all properties with a mortgage was 31 percent. But 2.3 million homes with "near-negative equity" (less than 5 percent) are particularly at risk should home prices decline, CoreLogic said. "The scourge of negative equity continues to recede across the country," a trend that should continue in 201...