Approximately 200,000 residential properties returned to a state of positive equity during the fourth quarter of 2012, according to data from Irvine, Calif.-based CoreLogic. This brings the total number of properties that moved from negative to positive equity in 2012 to 1.7 million and the number of mortgaged residential properties with equity to 38.1 million.
CoreLogic's analysis also shows that 10.4 million, or 21.5% of all residential properties with a mortgage, were still in negative equity at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012. This figure is down from 10.6 million properties, or 22%, at the end of the third quarter of 2012.
The national aggregate value of negative equity decreased $42 billion to $628 billion at the end of the fourth quarter from $670 billion at the end of the third quarter in 2012. This decrease was driven in large part by an improvement in home prices. Of the 38.1 million residential properties with positive equity, 11.3 million have less than 20% equity.
Nevada had the highest percentage of mortgaged properties in negative equity at 52.4%, followed by Florida (40.2%), Arizona (34.9%), Georgia (33.8%) and Michigan (31.9%). These top five states combined account for 32.7% of negative equity in the U.S.
Of the largest 25 metropolitan areas, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. had the highest percentage of mortgaged properties in negative equity at 44.1%, followed by Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla. (40.7%), Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. (38.1%), Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Ariz. (36.6%) and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (35.7%).
‘In the fourth quarter, we again saw an improvement in the equity position of households,’ says Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. ‘Housing market improvements, particularly in the hardest hit states, are the catalyst for households to regain equity and become participants in 2013's housing market.’