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Rust Belt Mortgages Are Swimming Underwater

market-studiesIt seems homeowners in the Rust Belt region, which stretches from New York through Indiana, have the most to worry about when it comes to their mortgage payments–at least according to Zillow’s Negative Equity Report released this morning.

The report, which examines the number of underwater mortgages across the country, found that homeowners in the Rust Belt are much more likely to have underwater mortgages and negative equity than any other area of the country.

In total, four of the most underwater markets are located in the Rust Belt region. These include Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and Cleveland. Other highly underwater U.S. metros include Philadelphia, Atlanta, Phoenix, St. Louis, Baltimore, Orlando, and Las Vegas.

Homeowners on the West Coast? They are much less likely to be behind on their mortgages than other U.S. homeowners. In fact, the Bay Area boasts the lowest rates of negative equity among all large American markets. The San Jose and San Francisco metro areas actually have negative equity rates under 5 percent.

"When the housing bubble burst, the West Coast had more than its fair share of underwater homeowners," according to Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. "But the strong local economy and job markets have significantly helped these housing markets recover, and several are now more expensive than they were during the housing bubble. Other parts of the country didn't get those same benefits."

Currently, Chicago has the highest rate of negative equity in the country, replacing Las Vegas, the previously crowned winner. At one point, Chicago has a 41.1-percent rate of negative equity. Though the city’s numbers have improved significantly since then, that improvement is happening at a much slower rate than other areas of the country.

“Until market fundamentals improve, homeowners and buyers in these areas will be facing disproportionately higher levels of negative equity as they navigate the housing market,” Gudell said.

In total, Zillow’s report found that 12.7 percent of all U.S. homeowners currently have a mortgage in negative equity. That’s down from 31.4 percent in 2012 and 13.1 percent in 2015.

About Author: Aly J. Yale

Aly J. Yale is a freelance writer and editor based in Fort Worth, Texas. She has worked for various newspapers, magazines, and publications across the nation, including The Dallas Morning News and Addison Magazine. She has also worked with both the Five Star Institute and REO Red Book, as well as various other mortgage industry clients on content strategy, blogging, marketing, and more.
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