RISING HOME PRICES BRING 700,000 HOMEOWNERS ABOVE WATER

Rising home prices helped more than 700,000 homeowners regain equity in their homes during the first quarter.  The number of U.S. homeowner’s with negative equity declined by 6 percent in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter, leaving 23.7 percent of all homes with mortgages underwater.  “In the first quarter of 2012, rebounding home prices,a healthier balance of real estate supply and demand, and a slowing share of distressed sales activity helped to reduce the negative equity share.

“This is a meaningful improvement that is driven by quickly improving outlooks in some of the hardest-hit markets.  While the overall stagnating economic recovery will likely slow housing market recovery in the second half of this year, reducing the number of underwater households in an important step toward reducing future mortgage default risk.”