Econintersect: The percentage of homeowners underwater increased to 23.1% in the fourth quarter of 2010 as median home prices edged lower. Underwater homeowners are those who owe more on their mortgages than the market value of their homes.
In 4Q/2010 300,000 more mortgagors slipped into a negative equity position. A total of 11.1 million homeowners now owe more than their house is worth.An additional 2.4 million homeowners have less than 5% equity. Since typical selling costs for a home run in the vicinity of 5-6%, most of these hoemowners are also virtually underwater. In total, including these marginal homeowners, 13.5 million, or 27.9%, are underwater if they were to sell their homes right now with customary selling expenses.
CoreLogic provides the following graphic:
The current summary from CoreLogic includes:
- Nevada had the highest negative equity percentage with 65 percent of all of its mortgaged properties underwater, followed by Arizona (51 percent), Florida (47 percent), Michigan (36 percent) and California (32 percent).
- At 118 percent, Nevada had the highest average loan-to-value (LTV) ratios for properties with a mortgage, followed by Arizona (95 percent), Florida (91 percent), Michigan (84 percent), and Georgia (81 percent). New York had the lowest LTV at 50 percent, followed by Hawaii (54 percent), District of Columbia (58 percent), Connecticut (60 percent), and North Dakota (60 percent).
- The distribution of LTV varies greatly by state. For example, California has a higher share of borrowers with 60 percent or less LTV compared to Texas even though California has a negative equity share that is 3 times higher than Texas. Florida and Michigan have fairly similar concentrations of low LTV loans, but above 70 percent LTV the profiles of the states begin to diverge with Florida significantly worse than Michigan.
- The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 set forth the qualified residential mortgage (QRM) designation, which exempts lenders from risk retention requirements for the loans to be securitized, making those loans cheaper to originate. While there are many aspects to the definition, an emerging consensus is that a 20 percent down payment will be one of the features. Clearly, higher down payments are necessary to reduce credit risk for lenders and securitizers, but given the majority of homebuyers are repeat buyers who use current equity as the bulk of their equity, states that have a lower proportion of borrowers with 80 percent LTV or less will be adversely affected because repeat buyers will not have sufficient down payments to buy new homes1 with QRMs. In the U.S., 54 percent of homeowners with mortgages would qualify for the exemption using the 20 percent definition. But more than 70 percent of borrowers in New York, Hawaii and North Dakota would qualify, so the impact in those states will be smaller than the impact on the U.S. Conversely, Nevada will be the most negatively impacted by the QRM exemption, because few homeowners have 20 percent equity or more in their home. Other hard-hit foreclosure states that would be negatively impacted include Georgia and Colorado.
- The consensus is that home prices will fall another 5 percent to 10 percent in 2011. If so, the most that negative equity will rise is another 10 percentage points, all else equal2. What’s important is not just the share of at-risk loans (i.e., loans with less than 10 percent equity) but current price movements. At the safe end of the spectrum, New York, North Dakota and Hawaii have very low shares of at risk loans (less than 7 percent) and prices are still increasing, so the risk is minimal (Figure 5). Colorado, Tennessee and North Carolina appear to be the riskiest because they each have the largest percent of loans at risk (16 percent or more). However, each is only experiencing moderate price declines so the impact in these states will be small to moderate. Given price declines, the largest risk to future increases in negative equity lies in Alabama, Idaho, and Oregon which have a high share of loans that are near negative equity and rapid home price depreciation.
- The aggregate level of negative equity increased to $751 billion in Q4, up from $744 billion last quarter but still below $800 billion a year ago. Over $450 billion of the aggregate negative equity dollars include borrowers who are upside down by more than 50 percent (Figure 6).
1 This analysis is about the typical future homebuyer who is an owner with a mortgage. We implicitly assume that the majority of future homebuyers’ downpayment will come from their current equity and will purchase a similarly priced home. These borrowers typically represent the majority of homebuyers in normal markets.
2 Most likely even if prices decline 10 percent in 2011, negative equity will rise by less than that because foreclosures are removing negative equity borrowers.