Nearly a third of Sonoma County homeowners with mortgages were “underwater” at the end of 2009, according to a new report by First American CoreLogic.
That means that almost 34,000 borrowers here owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth at the end of the fourth quarter. Another 4,400 county homeowners were said to be in “near negative equity.”
The county rate of 32 percent compares with 24 percent for the nation. That amounted to 11.3 million homes, up from 10.7 million homes in the third quarter.
“Negative equity is a significant drag on both the housing market and on economic growth. It is driving foreclosures and decreasing mobility for millions of homeowners,” Mark Fleming, chief economist with First American CoreLogic said in a release Tuesday. “Since we expect home prices to slightly increase during 2010, negative equity will remain the dominant issue in the housing and mortgage markets for some time to come.”
The underwater borrowers had an average negative equity of $70,700 per home. The aggregate dollar value of such negative equity totaled $801 billion, up $55 billion from the third quarter.
California had the largest number of underwater borrowers, 2.4 million, but the smallest increase in the share of negative equity from the third quarter. The rise amounted to only .4 percent, which brought the ratio of underwater borrowers to 35 percent of all the state’s owners with mortgages.
– Robert Digitale