What is an Underwater Mortgage?

by | Apr 14, 2022 | Education, Financial, Home Buying, Mortgage, Mortgage Loan, Underwater Mortgage

An underwater mortgage or upside-down mortgage is when the value of your property is less than the remaining mortgage you still owe on the property.

Underwater mortgages most commonly occur during an economic downturn when the value of property rapidly declines. They can also result from an increase in short sales, foreclosures, and natural disasters in your area. While these are increasingly rare, they were very common at the height of the housing market crash in 2008.

Indicators of An Underwater Mortgage

There are ways you can determine for sure if your mortgage is underwater. But there are signs you can look for before you find out for certain. These include:

  • Declining local property values
  • You’re behind on mortgage payments

Do You Have An Underwater Mortgage?

If you are worried that you might have an underwater mortgage, here is how to find out for sure:

Determine the value of your home.

To find out the value of your home, you can speak with an experienced local real estate agent for an estimate of the value of your home. For a more accurate value number, you can hire a professional licensed appraiser to assess the value of your home.

Calculate how much you still owe on your mortgage.

The value of your home can be found on a recent mortgage statement or your online mortgage payment account. If you have difficulty locating this information, reach out to your mortgage lender to retrieve this information.

Find the difference between your home’s current value and the amount you owe.

Subtract the amount you still owe on your mortgage from the value of the home. If you still owe $180,000 on your mortgage but the value of your home is only $150,000, your mortgage is underwater.

Why is an Underwater Mortgage a Problem?

There are a few issues with an underwater mortgage. You will not be able to sell or refinance your mortgage if you have an underwater mortgage. You also may be at risk of foreclosure if your mortgage is underwater. Foreclosures occur when you fall too far behind on your mortgage payments and your mortgage lender eventually assumes ownership of your home.

What Are My Options if My Mortgage is Underwater?

Foreclosure is not necessarily inevitable if your mortgage is underwater. If you do not need to sell or refinance your home any time soon, you can usually continue making payments on your home until the housing market turns around and the value of your property increases until your mortgage is “right side up” again.

There are also programs that can help you gain financial relief if you are struggling to keep up with your mortgage. These programs include The Freddie Mac Enhanced Relief RefinanceSM program, a relief refinance program, and Fannie Mae’s version of the Enhanced Relief RefinanceSM, a high loan-to-value refinance program.

Contact a Loan Specialist

If you have more questions about your home loan eligibility, the loan specialists at VeteransLoans.com can determine your eligibility and get you pre-qualified in a matter of minutes! Call 1 (888) 232-1428 to speak with a loan specialist today!

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