'Underwater' mortgages decline in Minn. as housing values recover

The share of Minnesotans who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth is declining.

At the end of 2013, about 10 percent of mortgaged properties were "underwater," down from about 16 percent a year earlier, the research firm CoreLogic said Thursday.

Nationally, there was also a big improvement in homeowners' mortgage debt relative to their home values, the group said. The share of homeowners with a mortgage who were in negative equity was about 13 percent at the end of 2013, down from about 22 percent a year earlier.

The states with the highest percentage of mortgaged properties that were underwater were Nevada, Florida, Arizona, Ohio and Illinois.

As home prices rise and homeowners gain more equity in their properties, their risk of foreclosure drops.

The improving home equity picture could prompt more Minnesotans to list their homes for sale, said Herb Tousley, director of real estate programs at the University of St. Thomas.

"As they come into a situation where they have some equity now, I think you're going to start to see more of those houses come on to the market now to help us with the inventory situation," he said.

The inventory of homes for sale in the Twin Cities is at a roughly 10-year low.