Underwater Mortgage

Home Ownership by Country

Home Ownership by Country

Underwater Mortgage

Underwater mortgage is a mortgage loan whose balance is higher than the fair market value of the home. In other words, a mortgage is said to be underwater when the property has a negative equity.

The situation usually occurs during the house market collapse such as the one that occurred during the late 2000s. When the property value decreases sharply in the market, individuals will find the home values decrease considerably. In such a case, they won’t be able to sell the mortgaged house without first making up the shortfall with their own pockets.

For instance, let’s suppose you have $300,000 mortgage but the value of your mortgaged house in the market is $250,000. In this case your mortgage is $50,000 more than your property value, and your mortgage is said to be underwater mortgage.

You can use online underwater mortgage calculator to determine whether your home has a negative equity. You need to enter the initial loan amount, loan term, interest rate, first payment date, other monthly prepayment, and current home value to determine the extent to which your mortgage loan amount exceeds the home value.

What are the Solutions to Underwater Mortgages?

A problem with underwater mortgage is that you won’t be able to sell the mortgaged house without making up the shortfall with your own pockets. Moreover, if you face financial difficulties and can’t afford to make mortgage payments, the home will have to be foreclosed.

The only way to avoid foreclosure with underwater mortgage is to re-negotiate the terms and agreement with the lender company.

The ideal solution to underwater mortgage is to avoid selling the house. However if you face financial difficulty and can’t keep up with the mortgage payment, then you should consider applying for Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) in the US.

HARP is a government initiative to help individuals with underwater mortgage to refinance the loan at viable rates. The program allows homeowners with negative home equity to refinance their mortgages with lenient terms and conditions.

In order to qualify for the program, the underwater mortgage balance must be not less than 80% of the home value. Moreover, the homeowner must have zero or less delinquencies to become eligible for the HARP program.

HARP is the best program to lower the burden of loan payments in case of underwater mortgage. However, there is one big drawback that the application process takes a long time. You have to wait a certain period of time before your application is granted.

For quick refinancing of your underwriter mortgage you must contact finance companies that deal with such mortgage. The refinancing company will give you a new loan in place of the old one. The refinanced mortgage loan will have a lower monthly payment, a reduced rate, or a fixed rate instead of the adjustable rate. This will make it easier for you to make monthly payments.

Further Reading

  • Locked in the house: Do underwater mortgages reduce labor market mobility? – papers.ssrn.com [PDF]
  • House arrest: the effects of underwater and low-equity mortgages on small business failure and mobility – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Using eminent domain to write-down underwater mortgages: an economic analysis – aresjournals.org [PDF]
  • Paying Paul and robbing no one: an eminent domain solution for underwater mortgage debt – papers.ssrn.com [PDF]
  • Fear, shame and guilt: economic and behavioral motivations for strategic default – onlinelibrary.wiley.com [PDF]
  • The depth of negative equity and mortgage default decisions – papers.ssrn.com [PDF]
  • It Takes a Village: Municipal Condemnation Proceedings and Public/Private Partnerships for Mortgage Loan Modification, Value Preservation, and Local Economic … – heinonline.org [PDF]
  • Underwater mortgages: Why homeowners may continue to pay the debt – search.proquest.com [PDF]
  • A neurological explanation of strategic mortgage default – link.springer.com [PDF]