Prolonged housing issues: one-third of Chicago homes underwater

The housing crisis of recent years is not just about foreclosures. The loss in housing value across the board means that many homeowners with mortgages owe more on those mortgages than their house is worth. This is a common occurence in the Chicago region where new data suggests one-third of homes are underwater, a rate almost ten percent higher than the national average:

Some 32.9 percent of all local single-family detached homes with mortgages were underwater in September, meaning the homeowners owed more on the loans than the properties are worth, according to new data from realty Web site Zillow.com. That compares with 30.9 percent in June and 27.2 percent in September 2009. The report does not include data on condominiums.

Nationally, 23.2 percent of homes have negative equity.

“Negative equity is going to continue to cast a pall over the housing market for the next several years,” said Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist. “All these people are trapped in their homes and can’t move onto another one and it’s throwing off more foreclosures. For people who are not going to move anytime soon, it is much more of an academic issue. For people who need to move or who encounter an economic issue, it’s a material issue.”

I haven’t seen too many people speculating about the social consequences of this. Americans in the last 60 years have been fairly mobile people but these sorts of mortgage situations limits that. This may have consequences for job markets; even if there are jobs available elsewhere, fewer people are then able to pick up relatively quickly and move. On the other hand, it may lead to increased “feelings or perceptions of neighborhood” as more residents have to stay put longer than they would have even just five years ago.

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