Two statistical studies released last week offered a glimpse of where the country is in terms of homeowner equity, seven years after real estate began to tumble and crash. The first was the Federal Reserve’s quarterly “flow of funds” report. Among many other segments of the economy it toted up, the Fed found that homeowner equity has rebounded to its highest level in eight years — though it’s still not quite back to the $12 trillion it was during the hyperinflationary high point of the housing boom in 2005.
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The second study, from real estate analytics firm CoreLogic, focused on the flip side — the impressive shrinkage of negative equity. According to researchers, nearly 43 million owners with mortgage debt have positive equity. Roughly 6.5 million owners are still in negative equity positions, however, down from more than 10 million a year ago and 12 million in 2009.
Who are they and where are they? Not surprisingly, they are heavily concentrated in areas that saw the wildest price run-ups, the heaviest use of toxic loan products and the steepest plunges during the crash. In Nevada, 30.4 percent of all owners with mortgages are underwater. In Florida, it’s 28.1 percent. Arizona, 21.5 percent. Still, all three areas have improved sharply over the past two years.
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