Nearly 10 million U.S. households remain stuck in homes worth less than their mortgage and a similar number have so little equity they can’t meet the expenses of selling a home, trends that help explain recent sluggishness in the housing recovery.
At the end of the first quarter, some 18.8% of U.S. homeowners with a mortgage9.7 million householdswere “underwater” on their mortgage, according to a report scheduled for release Tuesday by real-estate information site Zillow Inc. Z -2.64% While that is an improvement from 19.4% at the end of last year and a peak of 31.4% 2012, those figures understate the problem.
In addition to the homeowners who are underwater, roughly 10 million households have 20% or less equity in their homes, which makes it difficult for them to sell their homes without dipping into their savings. Most move-up homeowners typically use their home equity to cover broker fees, closing costs and a down payment for their next home. Without those funds, many homeowners can’t sell.