The number of underwater homeowners in Sonoma County continues to slowly recede, even as the national results remain stubbornly high.
An estimated 29,000 county households owed more than their homes were worth in the fourth quarter of 2011, CoreLogic, a real estate data service, reported Thursday. That amounted to 28 percent of all county residential mortgages.
A year earlier the rate was 29 percent, and in the fourth quarter of 2009 it was 32 percent — amounting to almost 34,000 homeowners.
Another 4,800 households, or 4.6 percent, had less than 5 percent worth of equity in their homes.
In contrast, CoreLogic estimated that 11.1 million residential properties nationally were in negative equity at the end of last year. That amounted to 22.8 percent, which was the same level as in the third quarter of 2009 when CoreLogic began such reports on negative equity.
Another 2.5 million households nationally had less than five percent equity.
Thirty percent of California homes are underwater.
Mark Fleming, CoreLogic’s chief economist, said negative equity “will take an extended period of time to improve, and if there is a hiccup in the economic recovery, it could mean a rise in foreclosures.”
Among states, Nevada had the highest negative equity rate with 61 percent of all of its mortgaged properties underwater. It was followed by Arizona (48 percent), Florida (44 percent), Michigan (35 percent) and Georgia (33 percent).
The top five states combined have an average negative equity share of 44.3 percent. In contrast, the remaining states have a combined average negative equity share of 15.3 percent.
— Robert Digitale