Negative Equity Homes Turning Around

Green uptrend arrow. Financial data on background. Multiple exposureAccording to the Zillow Negative Equity Report, the American negative equity rate has finally dropped in 2015’s second quarter, but it still leaves about 20% of condo owners buried.

Single-family homeowners in Orlando, Chicago, and Las Vegas are in far better places than those who owned condos. The only markets that were an exception to this rule were Detroit, Memphis, and Pittsburgh.

Those who owe more on their mortgage than their home is now worth are at soaring rates, which is an effect stemming from the real estate crisis. When looking at the worst of it, 15 million homeowners were in bad financial situations. Foreclosures, short sales, and rising home values have moved that number up to just 7.4 million after the second quarter.

This improvement is largely due to a trend of appreciation for the least valuable homes, which are generally more likely to be buried that the more expensive ones.

For example, in Atlanta 43% of lower-value homes have negative equity, with only 9.4% of high-end homes in negative equity. For an entire year, the market in Atlanta had slowed, but now low-end homes are appreciating more each year than high-end homes. This trend had moved negative equity homes from 29% to 21%. Similar situations were found in Sacramento, Riverside, and Phoenix — all places that were struggling.

“If the overall negative equity rate is going to continue to fall, it will need to keep being driven down by improving health at the bottom end of the market,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “The least valuable homes really bore the brunt of negative equity during the recession, and that’s where most negative equity remains concentrated today. As more first-time buyers enter the market seeking these less expensive homes, home value growth at the bottom end could continue to outpace growth overall, which will be good news for millions of underwater homeowners in these homes.”

So far, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Atlanta continue to have the highest negative equity rates of the 35 largest housing markets. Experts say that following return on investment advice is always a good idea when you’re looking to sell. For example, landscaped curbs can add 4.4% to home value, while hedges add 3.6%.

Experts also say these statistics show very good signs for the housing market, as this is the first time the negative equity rate has been below 15% since the housing bubble burst. It is expected that the trend will continue through at least the next quarter.

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