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Far fewer U.S. properties underwater at end of 2015 [Video]

Posted on Monday, February 8, 2016 at 1:01:25 PM

One of the more stubborn reminders of the housing crisis is the number of U.S. properties still seriously underwater on their mortgages. That is, those properties where the combined loan amount is at least 25 percent higher than the property's approximate market value. Thankfully, the outlook for homeowners still struggling with their residential financing continues to brighten.

According to RealtyTrac's Year-End 2015 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, there were 6.4 million properties seriously underwater last year. While that's still far too much - the figure represents 11.5 percent of all properties with a mortgage - it is a serious improvement on the situation of just one year ago. 

More than 616,000 homes have improved their equity since the end of 2014, RealtyTrac reported. 

"Over the past three and a half years, the number of seriously underwater properties has been cut in half, but we continue to deal with a long tail of seriously underwater properties, and it will likely be another five years at least before most of those remaining underwater properties move into positive equity territory," said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president. 

So, while there's still a long road ahead, the improving picture of underwater homeowners is good news for the entire housing market.