Mixed picture in Washington on underwater mortgages

Tacoma News TribuneApril 16, 2014 

The state of Washington is besting the national average when it comes to the percentage of mortgages that are under water.

Just 13 percent of all home loans in the state are for more than the property is worth, according to data released Thursday by analytics firm RealtyTrac. Nationally, 17 percent of home loans are under water. The national number is at the lowest level since RealtyTrac began reporting on under-water loans, in the first quarter of 2012. The recent negative-equity peak was 29 percent of all mortgages nationally, in the second quarter of 2012.

“U.S. homeowners are continuing to recover equity lost during the Great Recession, but the pace of that recovering equity slowed in the first quarter,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. That's when home sale prices rose more slowly than before.

“Slower price appreciation means the 9 million homeowners seriously underwater could still have a long road back," he said in a news release.

A closer look at the statewide data shows each county recovering at a different pace. Pierce County has 53,838 mortgages considered "seriously under water," which means the homeowner owes at least 25 percent more than what the home could sell for.

King County has 55,468 under-water mortgages -- not that many more than Pierce County, but King County also has almost three times as many housing units as Pierce County.

Thurston County has 11,019 under-water mortgages out of 108,095 housing units, according to the data.

Click through the map below for more detailed information.

If you live in Pierce County and are "under water" on your home mortgage, we'd like to talk to you for a story about how that is affecting your life. Maybe you can still make your mortgage payment and have no need to move, so a lack of equity isn't an immediate concern. But maybe you'd like to sell and buy a larger home, but can't because of the lack of equity.

Whatever your situation, if your home mortgage is under water, we'd like to hear from you. Please call Kathleen Cooper at 253-597-8546, or email kathleen.cooper@thenewstribune.com.

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