From (SDCo. homes that have no mortgage = 20%):

Nearly one in three mortgage holders in San Diego owe more than the value of their home, according to a CoreLogic report.

Of residential properties with a mortgage in San Diego County, 29.2 percent, or 173,139, were in negative equity at the end of the fourth quarter of 2010, the report said.

Negative equity in the county fell from 29.5 percent at the end of the third quarter.  An additional 5 percent, or 29,450 homes, were in near-negative equity, defined as 5 percent equity or less.

Together, mortgages with 5 percent equity or less accounted for 34.5 percent of all homes with a mortgage in the county.

While the percent of San Diego mortgages in negative equity declined on a quarter-to-quarter basis, the percent of homes in near-negative equity increased from 4.8 percent to 5 percent during the same period.

This suggests that the decrease in negative equity came from the foreclosure of underwater mortgages, rather than price increases pushing borrowers above water.

Nationally, negative equity increased in the fourth quarter to 11.1 million, or 23.1 percent of all homes with a mortgage, from 22.5 percent in the third quarter.

Prices declined in the last quarter of the year, leading to lower home values and an increase in the rate of negative equity.

An additional 2.4 million borrowers had less than 5 percent equity nationwide, bringing the total of negative equity and near-negative equity mortgages across the country to 27.9 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage.

“Negative equity holds millions of borrowers captive in their homes, unable to move or sell their properties,” said Mark Fleming, CoreLogic chief economist. “Until the high level of negative equity begins to recede, the housing and mortgage finance markets will remain very sluggish.”

Of those mortgages in near-negative equity or negative equity nationwide, nearly 10 percent had negative equity of 25 percent or more; California had the third largest share of these severe negative-equity mortgages, with nearly 20 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage.

CoreLogic used public record data to calculate its mortgage debt outstanding, which includes first mortgage liens and junior mortgage liens and is adjusted for amortization and home equity utilization.

The Santa Ana-based company estimated the current value of homes using its proprietary automated valuation models.

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