One-fifth of NYC-area borrowers are underwater

New York City still trails national average of 31.4 percent

For all the recent signs of the improving U.S. housing market, nearly one in three Americans with home mortgages are still underwater on their property, according to a report released today by Zillow. About 16 million Americans, or 31.4 percent of those with mortgages, owed more on their mortgages than their home was worth in the first quarter. That’s a slight increase from 31.1 percent recorded in the fourth quarter of 2011. However, they continue to make payments, as just one in 10 of the underwater borrowers is more than 90 days delinquent.

About 40 percent of the underwater borrowers owe between 1 percent and 20 percent more than their home is worth. However, 15 percent of them owe more than twice what their home is now worth. That group is comprised of 2.4 million Americans or 4.7 percent of all homeowners. In the hard-hit Las Vegas area, 26.8 percent of all homeowners with mortgages fall into that category.

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In the New York-metropolitan area just 21.3 percnt of homeowners have mortgages with negative equity, up from 20.1 percent in the fourth quarter. Only Pittsburgh had a lower rate of underwater mortgages among the nation’s major markets. However, 20.6 percent of New York’s underwater borrowers were delinquent on their loans by at least 90 days, trailing only Miami-Fort Lauderdale for the highest proportion. — Adam Fusfeld