Almost a third of us in the Tampa Bay area owe more on our mortgages than our property is worth.
In a measure of how deeply housing values have sunk, real estate consultant First American CoreLogic reports that 183,821 properties in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area have negative equity.
That's 31 percent of all properties carrying a mortgage in our region. Another 28,349 mortgages, or 4.8 percent, are close to being "under water," the company said.
Negative equity is a greater problem in the Tampa Bay area than it is nationally. About 8.3 million mortgages, or 20 percent, are underwater across the country as a whole. Florida's rate was 30.3 percent, or 1.28 million underwater mortgages.
The median sales price of homes in the region fell nearly 50 percent between June 2006 and January 2009. Such devaluation has especially squeezed homeowners who took out expensive mortgages at the peak of the housing boom.
"The accelerating share of negative equity, combined with deteriorating economic conditions, means that mortgage risk will continue to increase until home prices and the economy begin to stabilize," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for First American CoreLogic.
Five states, including Florida, stood out for their disproportionate share of mortgages in the most distress. The other states are California, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan.