Morning Briefing: Underwater home owners unlikely to surface for years

by Steve Randall15 Jun 2015
Underwater home owners unlikely to surface for years
Nearly 4 million home owners owe their mortgage lender 20 per cent more than the value of their home and that may not change for years. The latest report from Zillow on negative equity shows that in the first quarter of this year there were 7.9 million mortgaged houses underwater, that’s down to 15.8 per cent from 16.9 per cent at the end of last year. While it’s a good sign of recovery the rate of house value growth has slowed which could leave some of those in negative equity unable to sell their home for some time, particularly those needing more than 20 per cent increase to break even.

Exacerbating the situation is that those with the lowest value homes are often those with the largest negative equity; 25 per cent of the 33 per cent of least valuable homes compared to 8 per cent of the 33 per cent most expensive. There are also regional variations with 46 per cent of the least-valuable third of homes underwater compared to 10 per cent of the most-valuable third. Las Vegas and Chicago also have exceptionally high proportions of underwater homes while Miami and Detroit has fewer but they are deeper under.

"It's great news that the level of negative equity is falling, but what really worries me is the depth of negative equity. Millions of Americans are so far underwater, it's likely they may not re-gain equity for up to a decade or more at these rates," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries.
Realtors push for affordability measures in Massachusetts
Around 400 Massachusetts realtors headed for the State House last week to push for measures to tackle housing affordability in the state. The 30th annual Realtor Day on Beacon Hill saw discussion about the problems preventing homeownership including barriers to construction. The realtors want to see zooming reforms and support a bill requiring that cluster development be allowed by right in residential zoning districts, at the density permitted in the underlying zoning district. The bill also promotes multifamily housing construction and accessory dwelling units, on “in-law apartments.”

The members of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors also support a bill to help with mortgage debt which would allow homeowners to complete loan modifications, short sales and foreclosures for which they have debt forgiven without making them liable to pay state taxes on the that debt. 
Miley Cyrus sells family home
Singer Miley Cyrus has sold her Californian home for almost $6 million. The Lake Toluca home, which was a trust property given to her by her parents, had been the family home since 2007. With six bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms, a movie theater and library, the home sold for just shy of $6 million. The Latin Post also reports that the home comes with a pool, fairly standard for California, and a skateboard ramp which is a little more unique.


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