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Economy and Business

A third of Northeast Ohio homes remain "seriously underwater"
Daren Blomquist of RealtyTrac says the recovery here may require more than time

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
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In The Region:
The good news in the latest RealtyTrac report is that a lot fewer people owe a lot more on their mortgages than their houses are worth. The bad news is that more than a quarter of homeowners in Ohio still fall into that category. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on underwater properties.
LISTEN: Daren Blomquist explains Northeast Ohio's unfortunate circumstances

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RealtyTrac defines properties as “seriously underwater” if people owe at least 25 percent more on their mortgage than the value of the house. And right now that means 17 percent of all residential properties in the country. That’s the lowest level in two years, and down from 26 percent a year ago.

But Ohio – especially Northeast Ohio -- continues to struggle. More than a third of the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor market is seriously underwater – putting it right up there with Las Vegas and with Lakeland and Palm Bay, Florida.

Daren Blomquist of RealtyTrac says those other communities have something going for them right now that Northeast Ohio does not – rebounding prices.

“It’s almost a situation where you can say, ‘Homeowners, just wait it out. Home prices are rebounding at double digits percentage-wise every year. You’re going to see your equity return fairly quickly.’ In Ohio, it’s not that simple. 

We show home prices in Cleveland are up 5 percent, but at 5 percent, it’s going to take several years before many of the homeowners are back above water.”

Blomquist says the recovery here may require more than time, including lenders who agree to short sales or serious loan modifications.
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