Underwater mortgages back above 11 million in 4Q

March 8, 2011: The number of homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the property is worth rose nearly 3% in the fourth quarter as home prices and values declined.

CoreLogic (: ) said 11.1 million residential properties, or 23.1% of all U.S. homes, were in negative equity at Dec. 31, up from 10.8 million, or 22.5%, the prior quarter. The total negative equity held by the nation’s homeowners rose to $751 billion for the fourth quarter from $744 billion at Sept. 30, but down from $800 billion a year earlier. The number of upside down mortgages declined through the first three quarters of 2010, as more properties were foreclosed upon.

“Negative equity holds millions of borrowers captive in their homes, unable to move or sell their properties,” CoreLogic Chief Economist Mark Fleming said. “Until the high level of negative equity begins to recede, the housing and mortgage finance markets will remain very sluggish,” Housing Wire.

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