More than 27,000 homeowners in region have 'underwater' mortgages

California research firm says 17,208 single-family homes in Raleigh-Cary, 5,152 in Durham, and 4,812 in Fayetteville have mortgages that are higher than the property values. Another 20,000 are close to negative value. Meanwhile, latest sales data for January shows drop in home values and in number of closings.

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Declining equity values by region
RALEIGH, N.C. — More than 27,000 home owners with mortgages across the Triangle and Fayetteville have mortgages that are higher than their homes. And another 20,000 have properties that are close to being “underwater” or “upside down” in value.

Those are the grim statistics from analysis firm First American CoreLogic. Falling sales are pushing more home values in the Triangle region and across the country below the mortgages that are owed – thus the terms underwater and upside down.

More than 13 percent of homeowners in Raleigh-Cary, 16 percent in Durham and 20 percent in Fayetteville have mortgages that are underwater.

Not only are homes selling for less, but fewer are being sold, according to new data from the North Carolina Association of REALTORS.

Nationally, more than 8.3 million homes, or 20 percent of properties with a mortgage, are underwater, California-based CoreLogic reported. Another term used for such mortgages is “upside down,” meaning the owner owes more than the home is worth.

Equity in another 700,000 properties is within 5 percent of the mortgage amount, falling into a category the company calls “near negative equity.”

CoreLogic’s data is based on mortgage information about 45 million single-family homes across the U.S.

“The accelerating share of negative equity, combined with deteriorating economic conditions, means that mortgage risk will continue to increase until home prices and the economy begin to stabilize,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic.

In Raleigh-Cary, CoreLogic reported that 17,208 properties are underwater. That’s 7.6 percent of the homes in the firm’s data.

Another 12,687, or 5.6 percent, are at near-negative equity.

The numbers are worse in both Durham and Fayetteville.

According to CoreLogic, 5,152 homes, or 9.9 percent, are upside down in value. Another 3,202 are near negative.

In Fayetteville, 4,812 homes, or 11.1 percent, are underwater, CoreLogic reported. Near-negative properties number 4,093 or 9.4 percent.

The housing market in the Triangle, Fayetteville and across the state fell further in January.

According to the N.C. REALTORS data, only 879 existing and new homes were sold in the Triangle. That total is a 43 percent plunge from the 1,553 sold in January 2007 and is a 19 percent drop from last December when 1,089 homes were sold.

Housing values also fell, declining to $224,831. That’s a 4 percent drop from January 2007.

In Fayetteville, January existing home sales fell 28 percent from a year ago to 278. Home values did increase slightly by $575 to $118,750 from the previous year.

Across the state, home sales declined 36 percent in January to 4,044 from 6,363 a year earlier. Housing values fell 10 percent to $192,537.

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