Maps

A Fresh Look at Where Americans Are Underwater

A county-level look at where homes are worth less than the debt owed on them.

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Courtesy: Zillow

Negative equity – owing more on a home than it's worth – may be one of the most pervasive long-term repercussions of the housing market's crash. A new map puts that problem into depressingly vibrant color.

The real estate information website Zillow has compiled its data from the first quarter of 2012 to build this map, showing just how much negative equity there is among the homes in many counties. Deep red along the west coast, throughout Florida and in the Great Lakes region serve as a harsh reminder of the chronic troubles these areas are still struggling to control.

A chunk of the center of the country is missing, mostly areas without large population centers like Montana, South Dakota and Kansas.

In the worst hit counties, more than half of the homes are underwater. Clark County, Nevada – home to Las Vegas – is among those in the unfortunate top 1 percent, with 71 percent of homes underwater. For the vast majority of homes here, the amount owed is more than 200 percent of the value. Clayton County, Georgia, part of metro Atlanta, has an astounding 85 percent of its homes underwater.

This article from 24/7 Wall St. breaks Zillow data down even further to name the ten cities with the highest rates of homes with negative equity. Las Vegas, Reno, and Bakersfield are the worst performing cities in the country, with rates above 60 percent.

While the situation is certainly bad in many, many parts of the country, four-fifths of all counties in America have fewer than 35 percent of their homes underwater, according to the map. But it's still a widespread problem – and one that seems to be growing. More than 31 percent of all homes in the country are underwater, according to these first quarter 2012 numbers from Zillow, a jump from the 28 percent the company noted a year earlier and the 22 percent the year before that.

Image credit: Zillow

About the Author

  • Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.