More than 10 percent of U.S. properties were still seriously underwater — or struggling under the weight of loans higher than the property’s market value — in the second quarter of 2018, according to a new study published Thursday.

More than 5.5 million U.S. properties were seriously underwater in the second quarter of 2018, according to the study by property data firm ATTOM Data Solutions. At the same time, 13.5 million properties, or 24.5 percent of all properties with a mortgage, were considered equity rich — whereby the balance of loans was less than 50 percent of the property’s market value.

“The share of seriously underwater properties has dropped well below 10 percent in bellwether housing markets such as California, Washington, Texas, Colorado and New York,” said Daren Blomquist, a senior vice president with ATTOM. “But the underwater rate remains stubbornly high in markets where price appreciation has not been as strong during the housing recovery of the last six years.”

“Nationwide, the number of equity-rich homeowners is more than twice the number of seriously underwater homeowners,” he added. “But the gap between home equity-haves and have-nots persists because home-price appreciation is certainly not uniform across local markets or even within local markets.”

Regionally, the states with the largest share of properties seriously underwater were located in the South and Midwest.

In Louisiana, 21.7 percent of properties are seriously underwater. In Baton Rouge in particular, 21 percent of properties are seriously underwater, the highest metro area in the country. In Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio, more than 16 percent of properties are seriously underwater.

Four ZIP codes in the Chicago area — Geneva, Elgin, St. Charles and Sugar Grove — had more than 70 percent of properties seriously underwater.

The highest share of equity-rich properties were located on both coasts. In California, 43.5 percent of properties are equity rich and Hawaii, Washington, New York and Oregon all had levels above 30 percent. In San Jose, 71.9 percent of properties were equity rich, and in San Francisco 60.8 percent of properties are equity rich.

Both cities have experienced precipitous price growth.

Email Patrick Kearns

Back to top