Navigating the Rise of Seriously Underwater Mortgages

Lisa Mailhot  |  June 14, 2024


Navigating the Rise of Seriously Underwater Mortgages


As temperatures rise this summer, the term "underwater" takes on a critical meaning for homeowners far beyond the comfort of a cool dip in the pool. An underwater mortgage occurs when the principal amount owed on a mortgage is higher than the home's current market value. When this figure exceeds 25%, the mortgage is considered "seriously underwater."

The Current Landscape

Recent data from ATTOM highlights a slight increase in the percentage of homeowners nationwide facing seriously underwater mortgages, rising from 2.6% last year to 2.7% today. Regions most affected include various Southern cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans, as well as locales in the Midwest such as Jackson, MS, and Little Rock, AR.

The Pandemic's Role and Beyond

The origins of these underwater mortgages can largely be traced back to the COVID-19 pandemic, which fueled home price spikes due to a severe inventory shortage and low interest rates. However, as the market stabilizes, prices are correcting, leading to increased instances of underwater mortgages. Additional economic factors, such as shifts away from fossil fuel production and other regional economic declines, have exacerbated the situation in states like Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.

Market Effects and Homeowner Options

This uptick in underwater mortgages could herald broader challenges for the real estate market. High home prices, combined with soaring maintenance costs and taxes, strain homeowners. For those currently underwater, options include enduring the downturn, seeking loan modifications, or considering short sales, though each path has significant implications.


If you're in a region witnessing a rise in underwater mortgages, it's crucial to understand your position and options. While the market presents challenges, strategic planning can provide a pathway forward. If you're contemplating moving to Orange County and want to navigate these complex waters successfully, let's connect and explore your best moves in today's market.



Reference: Gerstein, J. (2024, June 12). ‘Seriously Underwater Mortgages’ Are Spreading in the South and Midwest—This Could Be Bad for the Rest of Us. 


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