Zillow: Negative home equity rises

Home values in the United States posted their largest quarterly decline since the first quarter of 2009, falling 2.6 percent as the temporary stimulus of the home buyer tax credits wore off, according to Zillow’s fourth quarter Real Estate Market Reports. The Zillow Home Value Index declined 5.9 percent year-over-year during the fourth quarter to $175,200. Home values have fallen 27 percent since they peaked in June 2006.

In Pierce County, the index fell 9.4 percent to $207,700. The index for Eatonville was off 16.3 percent to $220,700, Edgewood dropped 14.6 percent to $265,000, Tacoma fell 13.3 percent to $169,800, Gig Harbor was off 10.7 percent to $313,300, Lakewood dropped 10.3 percent to $197,800, Sumner fell 9.2 percent to $213,400, Fife was off 8.7 percent to $203,700, University Place dropped 7.8 percent to $252,300, Puyallup dropped 7.4 percent to $211,600, Bonney Lake fell 7.4 percent $247,700, Steilacoom was off 6 percent to $250,100.

Accelerating home value declines, as well as a slowdown in the nation’s foreclosure rate following the late-2010 robo-signing controversy, contributed to an increase in negative equity, according to Zillow’s report. At the end of the fourth quarter, 27 percent of single-family homeowners with mortgages owed more on their mortgage than their homes were worth, up from 23.2 percent in the third quarter.

The accelerated decline in home values brought trouble for home sellers, as more were forced to sell their home for less than they purchased it, according to Zillow’s report. The rate of homes selling for a loss reached a new peak in December, with 34.1 percent selling for a loss. The rate of homes sold for a loss has increased steadily for the past six months.

For the full national report, including information for individual ZIP codes and neighborhoods, visit http://www.zillow.com/local-info/ .