From the notebook of business editor Tim Rausch

More Augusta mortgages are getting underwater

More homes are underwater in Augusta.

 

That’s the negative-equity kind of underwater, meaning the value of the home is less than the mortgage. For this information, we turned to CoreLogic, a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange that provides analytics and business services.

 

CoreLogic said that for Augusta-Richmond County, 11,525 residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity for the first quarter of 2012. That is 15.3 percent, up from 15.0 percent for underwater homes in the fourth quarter of 2011.

 

An additional 8.1 percent, or 6,057 residential properties, are in danger of being in negative equity for the first quarter compared to 7.2 percent, or 5,144, in fourth quarter 2011.

 

It is an problem that has been getting steadily worse. CoreLogic last year said that 9.6 percent were underwater in the first quarter of 2011, and 7.3 percent were getting close to being upside down. Unfortunately, CoreLogic doens’t factor in the other counties in our coverage area.

 

Compared to Georgia? Well, the Peach State is among the worst for being upside down, 37 percent, with only Nevada, Arizona and Florida being worse.

Nationally, 11.4 million, or 23.7 percent, of all residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity at the end of the first quarter. Things are getting better there. The percentage is down from 25.2 percent at the end of 2011.

 

“In the first quarter of 2012, rebounding home prices, a healthier balance of real estate supply and demand, and a slowing share of distressed sales activity helped to reduce the negative equity share,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “This is a meaningful improvement that is driven by quickly improving outlooks in some of the hardest hit markets. While the overall stagnating economic recovery will likely slow housing-market recovery in the second half of this year, reducing the number of underwater households is an important step toward reducing future mortgage default risk.”

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