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More borrowers were underwater on mortgages at end of 2010

[Feb 10, 2011.]


More homeowners found themselves underwater on mortgage loans in the fourth quarter of 2010. The number of mortgages underwater swelled to 27 percent, compared with 23 percent in the previous quarter, according to a Zillow survey.

Home values drop

Zillow also reported that home values had the biggest decline since the first quarter of 2009. The 2.6 percent drop came as the effect of the government's tax credits for home buyers wore off. The Zillow Home Value Index fell to $175,200 in the fourth quarter, a 5.9 decline when compared with the like period a year ago.

Dr. Stan Humphries, Zillow chief economist, said in a statement:

While the tax credits did not hurt the housing market, they did delay its bottom by interrupting the housing correction that was taking place. Home value trends in the fourth quarter remained grim, but the good news is that these declines, while painful in the short-term, mean we're getting closer to the bottom. The housing recession is likely in its death throes, and we expect to see sales pick up in early 2011. That will lead the way to home values stabilizing and an eventual bottom later this year, although it will take several months of increased sales activity before values begin to respond.

Get help with mortgage loans

It can be tough to know what to do if you are underwater on a mortgage loan. But help is available, so you don't have to figure out a solution on your own. Start by contacting your mortgage lender or loan servicer to discuss the situation. Yes, there are many horror stories about people getting no response from mortgage lenders when seeking help. But there also are many borrowers who were persistent about finding someone to listen and were able to work out a solution to their mortgage woes.

You can also discuss your mortgage situation with a housing counselor. There are many community agencies out there offering to assist borrowers, but it's important to find someone who is reputable and knowledgeable about programs that can help you. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has a list of counseling agencies across the country.


About Author:

Francine L. Huff is a freelance journalist and the author of The 25-Day Money Makeover for Women. She has appeared on a variety of TV and radio shows.

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