Welcome to 2015. You made it. The Great Recession is completely in the rear-view mirror.

Or is it?

A new report from real estate listings site Zillow says that nearly one in five (18.4 percent) of Los Angeles homeowners with mortgages are “effectively underwater, unable to sell their homes for enough profit to comfortably meet expenses related to listing a home and purchasing a new one,” according to a spokeswoman.

It sounds bleak, but that's actually part of an improving outlook for a post-recession Southern California, one of the regions that was hit hardest by the recession-sparking subprime home loan debacle in which folks were baited to buy places they really couldn't afford.

Zillow says that 8.1 percent of L.A. homeowners with a mortgage are full-on underwater, hanging on to homes that are worth less than they owe.

That figure is better than the 8.6 percent underwater rate seen late last year and the 11.6 percent rate seen a year ago. Those underwater still have a long way to swim before getting to the surface, though.

“Of those who are underwater, 53.3 percent of underwater homeowners in the metro [area] still owe at least 20 percent more than the value of their homes,” the spokeswoman said.

The amount of “negative equity” in the L.A. home market is a whopping $22.8 billion, Zillow says.

The neighborhoods hardest hit by this home-loan scuba diving are the ones with the least expensive properties, the site says:

Credit: Zillow

Credit: Zillow

The least valuable third of homes are most likely to be in negative equity. 12.8 percent of homes in the bottom third are in negative equity, compared with 6.5 percent in the middle third, and 3.4 percent in the top third.

The good news is that Zillow believes the percentage of L.A. homeowners totally underwater will decrease to 7.7 percent next year:

“The country is continuing to recover from the lax lending rules and subsequent housing market bust of the last decade,” the site says.


Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

LA Weekly