South Florida overflowing with underwater mortgages

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Paul Owers

Published November 9, 2011


People owing more than their homes are worth remains a big problem in South Florida, but it isn’t nearly as bad here as it is elsewhere.

Does that qualify as good news?


Roughly 47 percent of all single family homes with a mortgage in the three counties are “underwater,” up from 42 percent a year ago, according to third-quarter data from

The figure far surpasses the national average – about 29 percent.

Las Vegas leads the nation, with more than eight out of 10 single family homes with a mortgage

underwater. Reno is second at 71 percent and Phoenix third at 66 percent.

What’s more, eight Florida metro areas, including Jacksonville, Tampa and Ocala, have higher percentages than South Florida.

Those who owe more than their homes are worth bought at or near the peak of the housing boom and then watched as prices plummeted. Homeowners who are underwater are stuck in their properties and are more likely to fall into foreclosure.

When a lender repossesses a home and sells it to a third party, that new mortgage no longer is underwater. But the slower pace of foreclosures and still-falling home values are keeping Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties in the line of fire when it comes to bad mortgages.

Other South Florida stats from Zillow:

• The region’s home value index in the third quarter was $138,200, down 3.5 percent from a year ago. Zillow says its index measures the value of all homes, not just those that sold in a particular period.

• Values have fallen about 55 since peaking in June 2006 and are now back to the level of May 2002. Nationally, home values have fallen 29 percent since the 2006 peak. 

• About 44 percent of all South Florida homes sold in September sold for a loss, down from 49 percent a year ago. Nationally, 34 percent of all homes sold for a loss in September.