The Wall Street Journal Reports: One in Four Borrowers Are Underwater

More than 23 percent of people with mortgages owe more on their properties than they are worth, according to a report released Tuesday by research firm First American CoreLogic.

Another 2.3 million homeowners are within 5 percent of being underwater, bringing the total of those who are upside down or close to it to about 28 percent.

About 5.3 million U.S. households have mortgages that are at least 20 percent higher than their home’s value, the First American report says. Borrowers owing more than 120 percent of their home’s value are the most likely to default, First American calculates.

The majority of underwater mortgages are in the following states:

  1. Nevada: 65 percent of home owners are underwater
  2. Arizona: 48 percent
  3. Florida: 45 percent
  4. Michigan: 37 percent
  5. California: 35 percent

The report also notes that most U.S. homeowners have home equity, and nearly 24 million owner-occupied homes don’t have any mortgage at all, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Ruth Simon and James R. Hagerty (11/24/2009)