The number of Las Vegas homeowners with negative equity in their properties continues to decline, thanks in part to rising house prices.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that because of the damage inflicted by the recession on the Southern Nevada residential real estate market, the percentage of underwater homeowners is sky high compared to the rest of the nation.
CoreLogic, a company in Santa Ana, Calif., that tracks real estate data, released new underwater mortgage statistics Thursday.
CoreLogic said that in the first quarter, 64.7 percent of residential properties with a mortgage in Las Vegas were underwater — in negative equity, or upside down. That equals 269,453 properties.
That’s down from 68.4 percent, or 287,396 Las Vegas properties, in the fourth quarter of 2011.
In CoreLogic’s new state rankings, Nevada had the highest negative equity percentage in the nation at 61 percent, down from 64.8 percent in the fourth quarter.
Nevada was well ahead of Florida at No. 2 with 45 percent, Arizona at 43 percent, Georgia at 37 percent and Michigan at 35 percent.
Nationwide, 23.7 percent of homes were underwater in the first quarter, down from 25.2 percent in the fourth quarter, CoreLogic said.
Despite the elevated rates locally, they’re down from the underwater peaks of 77.7 percent (Las Vegas) and 72.7 percent (Nevada) in the first quarter of 2010.
Being in negative equity can occur because of a decline in a property’s value, an increase in the mortgage debt against it or a combination of the two.
In Las Vegas, prices have been rising this year — a development some attribute to banks putting fewer foreclosed homes on the market.
“We are encouraged by the positive trend of increasing housing prices and falling negative equity share in key states like Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee,” Anand Nallathambi, CEO of CoreLogic, said in a statement. “Although it will still be a slow recovery for U.S. homeowners, we see this improvement as a stabilizing and positive development for the mortgage industry.”