The number of homeowners underwater on their mortgage-owing more than their home is currently worth-continues to drop, but a few metros are still facing a disproportionate number of struggling owners.
Nationwide, 10.6 percent-or 5.3 million-of all mortgage holders remain underwater. Still, that marks a big improvement from early 2011 when a third of all mortgage holders were underwater, according to data from Lender Processing Services.
The following metros are seeing the largest number of underwater homeowners:
- Rockford, Ill.: 32.3 percent
- Atlanta: 29.4 percent
- Las Vegas: 27.3 percent
- Orlando: 26.6 percent
Rockford, Ill., which has the highest number of underwater owners in the country, faces a big foreclosure problem. The city - which once attracted Chicago residents with its lower housing prices - now has about 5,400 vacant housing units, 2,000 of which are abandoned or boarded up. Unemployment in the area also is 11.4 percent-down from 15.7 percent in July 2009 but way above the 7.3 percent national rate.
While new construction in the area has basically come to a halt, the area's home prices are starting to edge upward, mostly driven by investors who are buying homes for cash and renting them out.