When you first read that Virginia is number 10 on the list of CoreLogic’s top 10 states "sunk by underwater mortgages," you might assume it’s all bad news. In fact, it’s not.
Yes, it’s true we made the list; about 23% of homes in the Commonwealth are underwater, the company said, and an additional 6% are on the verge of being underwater.
So yeah, a lot of homeowners owe more than their houses are worth.
Keep in mind, though, that simply being underwater doesn’t mean much unless you want to sell the home. A large portion of that 23% isn’t affected. (Your truly is part of that group because I only put 5% down when I bought my house a few months ago. Ergo, I’m at about 95% loan to value, aka "near underwater." And I’m not particularly concerned.)
So not only is the bad news not really that bad, there’s a lot of good news in the same report:
- Virginia has one of the lowest rates of delinquency or foreclosure in the country. ("Underwater" doesn’t mean much if you’re making payments and not planning to sell.)
- We have an unemployment rate of 6.2% — the 11th lowest in the country.
- Our poverty level is low and our median income is high.
Compare our situation to some others on the list, and we’re doing pretty darned well.
In Florida, for example, more than 17 percent of homes are either already in foreclosure or the owner is 90+ days delinquent on payments. That’s more than one out of every six houses.
And in Nevada, not only are almost two-thirds of homes underwater, 13.4% are seriously delinquent or in foreclosure, and — get this — it’s the only state in the country where total homeowner debt is higher than the total property value of those homes.
Count your blessings, Virginia.