With the help of low inventory levels and unprecedented actions by the Federal Reserve, higher home prices have been a life preserver to the real estate market. Millions of Americans are no longer underwater on their mortgages, but millions of homeowners are still struggling in the wake of the housing bubble.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, the national negative equity rate declined to 19.4 percent of all homeowners with a mortgage, according to Zillow’s latest Negative Equity Report. The reduction comes after the previous quarter witnessed the fastest decline on record. In comparison, 27.5 percent of homeowners with a mortgage were underwater one year earlier. The peak was made in the first quarter of 2012, at 31.4 percent.
The national negative equity rate has now declined for six consecutive years. In fact, this is the first time in years that the rate dipped below 20 percent. Almost 3.9 million homeowners were freed from negative equity during the final three months of 2013. While this is a significant improvement, many people are still underwater, especially in certain states. Nevada leads the nation with 34 percent of borrowers owing more than their homes are worth, followed by Georgia at 32 percent.