Citizen Mish relays some disturbing factoids.
From mcclatchydc.com -
If you think the housing slump can't get much worse, Martin Feldstein thinks that both home prices and the broader economy can — and very likely will — get a whole lot worse.
"There are now 12 million homes in the United States with a loan-to-value ratio greater than 100 percent. That's one mortgage in four. The aggregate amount of that is some $2 trillion," said Feldstein. "If you look at the median (midpoint) loan-to-value ratio in that 12 million group of underwater mortgages — mortgages with negative equity — the median loan-to-value ratio is 120 percent."
That means about 25 percent of all U.S. mortgages exceed the value of the homes the mortgages are financing. In the case of half the homes that are underwater, homeowners are paying a mortgage that's now 20 percent higher than the value of the home.
That's bad — but it's likely to get worse.
A recent report by First American Core Logic, a real-estate data firm in Santa Ana, Calif., estimated that as of Sept. 30, 7.5 million mortgages, or 18 percent of all properties with a mortgage, had negative equity. The group thinks there are another 2.1 million mortgages that are within 5 percent of going underwater.
The implications for many homeowners are staggering. Before the recent housing boom of 2000 to 2006, homes increased in value at a historical annual rate of about 2.3 percent when adjusted for inflation.
That means that for homeowners who owe 35 percent more than their homes' value, it would take, at historical averages, about 15 years just to break even on their home investment. They won't build equity. It would be a huge incentive for millions to hand the keys back to the lender and seek cheaper housing.