Of nearly 46.3 million mortgaged residential properties in the United States at the end of the fourth quarter of 2015, approximately 4.3 million (10.7%) had a mortgage amount greater than the value of the property. The percentage of underwater or negative equity properties at the end of the fourth quarter was higher than the total at the end of the third quarter (4.1 million and 10.4%).
Some 18.9% (approximately 9.5 million) of all mortgaged properties have positive equity of less than 20%, and 2.3% had less than 5% positive equity at the end of the fourth quarter. The percentage of homes with less than 20% positive equity is slightly higher than at the end of the third quarter of 2015 when 17.6% of all properties had positive equity below 20%. Homes with less than 5% equity are also higher, 2.3% at the end of the fourth quarter compared with 2.3% in the prior quarter.
The aggregate value of negative equity fell by $37.4 billion year over year in the fourth quarter to a nationwide total of $311 billion. At the end of the third quarter, the aggregate value of underwater property totaled $301 billion. The data were released Thursday by research firm CoreLogic.
CoreLogic’s chief economist noted:
In Q4 of last year  home equity increased by $680 billion or 11.5%, the 13th consecutive quarter of double digit growth. The improvement in equity reflects positive home prices and continued deleveraging of mortgage balances by households.
The five states with the highest percentage of homes with negative equity are Nevada (18.7%), Florida (17.1%), Illinois (14.6%), Arizona (14.0%) and Rhode Island (13.5%). These five states accounted for 30.8% of all U.S. underwater mortgages in the fourth quarter of 2015.
The five states with the highest percentages of homes with positive equity are Texas (98.0%), Alaska (97.6%), Hawaii (97.6%), Montana (97.3%) and Colorado (97.1%).
The five metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of properties with negative equity are:
- Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla. (22.0%)
- Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (21.3%),
- Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Ill. (16.7%)
- Washington, DC-Arlington-Alexandria, Va. (11.0%)
- Boston, Mass. (6.3%)
The five metro areas with the highest percentage in positive equity are:
- San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, Calif. (99.3%)
- Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (98.1%)
- Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. (98.0%)
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (95.5%)
- New York City, Jersey City, White Plains, N.Y.-N.J. (93.8%)