One In Three Chance You'll Soon Owe More Than Your House Is Worth
By Henry Blodget
August 20, 2009
Foreclosure rates in the U.S. remain near record highs. More than 13% of American homeowners with a mortgage are either behind on their payments or in foreclosure. The latest report from the Mortgage Bankers Association, released today, shows the percentage of loans that entered the foreclosure process dipped slightly to 1.36%, down from an all-time high of 1.37% in the first quarter.
However, that number may soon rise again as mortgage delinquency rates continued to climb in the second quarter.
That news is no surprise to Karen Weaver of Deutsche Bank. She startled everyone a few weeks ago when she predicted that, by 2011, nearly half of American mortgage holders would be underwater (meaning that they'll owe more on their mortgages than their houses were worth).
Half of mortgage holders means about one-third of American households. Put another way, Weaver forecasts 25 million mortgage holders will be under water by 2011, up from an estimated 14 million currently.
Aside from the mega-bummer of owing the bank more than your house is worth, underwater mortgages exacerbate another problem: foreclosures. In previous housing busts, being underwater led to a greater likelihood of default, and Weaver believes this the foreclosure problem will be much worse this time around.
In a recent report, Weaver analyzed all the various kinds of mortgages in the US and estimated that 48% of them would be underwater by 2011. This includes "prime" borrowers, of whom a startling 41% will be underwater.
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