Almost 10 Million Homeowners Owe more than their House is Worth

Monday, June 02, 2014
(graphic: Steve Straehley, AllGov)

The effects of the housing crisis are still painfully apparent for many Americans, with nearly 10 million homeowners owing more on their mortgages than their property is worth.


That is just one of many sobering statistics demonstrating just how far the nation has to go to get the housing market in healthier shape.


A new report by the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley reveals a third of mortgaged homes in 57 U.S. cities are still underwater, meaning more is owed on the house than it’s worth. In 151 zip codes half of all mortgaged homes are underwater. Among the nearly 400 hardest-hit ZIP codes, there are 146 in which African-Americans and Latinos account for three-quarters of the population.


Those borrowers were more likely to be denied conventional loans than white homebuyers were, even when accounting for differences in income, according to the report. That pushed many minority borrowers into subprime loans that were far more expensive than traditional mortgages. “The legacy of predatory lending has resulted in a disproportionately negative impact on African American and Latino communities,” the report says.


The report’s authors, including experts from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and George Washington University, point out that nearly five million families lost their homes to foreclosure from 2008 to 2013. “And foreclosures continue at rates higher than prior to the Great Recession.”


In the 100 cities of population over 100,000 worst hit by declines in the housing market, more than 320,000 homes went into foreclosure last year. “Contrary to the claims of many observers that the recent rise in housing prices is solving the nation’s foreclosure and related economic crises, millions of families continue to face financial devastation from which many may never recover,” the report states.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Underwater America (Haas Institute) (pdf)

Negative Equity Continues to Fall, Concentrated in Bottom Tier (by Svenja Gudell, Zillow)

The Most Sought-After Homes Still Underwater (by Diana Olick, CNBC)

Banks Threaten to Punish Cities that Use Eminent Domain to Help Underwater Homeowners (by Ken Broder, AllGov)

The Obama Mortgage Settlement is Just Another Bank Bailout in Disguise (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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