South Florida’s underwater homeowners are drying out: report

10.1% of homes in South Florida had negative equity in the 4th quarter, vs.13.7% a year earlier

Mar.March 07, 2017 05:15 PM

A 2012 photo of the Brickell skyline taken from the Rickenbacker Causeway (Credit: Daniel Christensen)

Once one of the country’s worst regions for underwater homeownership, a new report shows South Florida’s housing market is headed to higher ground.

Listing website Zillow just released a fourth-quarter 2016 report detailing South Florida’s share of underwater homeowners who owe at least 20 percent more on their mortgages than the fair market value of their properties.

The report found South Florida’s percent of underwater mortgages, also called negative equity, fell to 10.1 percent by last year’s fourth quarter. That’s a 3.6 percentage point improvement compared to the 13.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, and a significant decrease from the more than 20 percent rate seen during the crash.

According to Zillow, the national trend of growing home prices has helped buoy many homeowners affected by the housing collapse out of negative equity.

South Florida, and especially Miami-Dade County, is no strange to swelling home values: property prices skyrocketed in 2014 and early 2015, though the rising tide of home prices has slowed over the past year.

But while the nationwide trend has leaned toward shrinking underwater homeownership, some major metros are still lagging behind others. The Zillow report states Las Vegas was the worst metropolitan area in the nation for underwater homes in the fourth quarter with a rate of 16.6 percent, following closely by Chicago, with 16.5 percent.

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