Fewer homeowners in region are underwater

As a housing market continues to gradually recover from the collapse during the Great Recession, the percentage of homeowners in the metro Milwaukee area that are underwater (owe more on their home than it is worth) fell from 29.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 28.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013, according to a new report from Seattle-based Zillow Inc., which tracks residential real estate values.

However, the Milwaukee area has a higher rate of underwater homeowners than the national rate of 25.4 percent, according to Zillow.

Another 18.2 percent of homeowners with mortgages, nationally, while not technically underwater likely do not have enough equity to afford to move, according to the report.
Among the largest metro area covered by Zillow, those with the highest underwater rate are: Las Vegas, 54.3 percent; Atlanta, 47.6 percent; Orlando, 41.8 percent; and Detroit, 40.1 percent.

In the metro Milwaukee area, Milwaukee County has the most underwater homeowners with 40.1 percent of mortgages in negative equity. Negative equity rates for the other counties include: Washington County, 18.5 percent; Waukesha County, 14.8 percent; Ozaukee County, 14.1 percent.

Zillow predicts the national negative equity rate will fall from 25.4 percent in the first quarter of 2013 to 23.5 percent by the first quarter of 2014. About 1.4 million homeowners will achieve positive equity during that time, according to the report. Most of those homeowners will be in the Los Angeles; Riverside, Calif.; and Phoenix areas.

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