A third of homeowners in Las Vegas have underwater mortgages - 8 News NOW

A third of homeowners in Las Vegas have underwater mortgages

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LAS VEGAS -- About a third of the homes with mortgages in Las Vegas are underwater, meaning the homeowners owe more than their house is worth.

Real estate watch group Zillow says Las Vegas homeowners owe $10 billion more than the worth of their homes; however, it is all an improvement from the last few years.

The housing market was booming in North Las Vegas until the recession hit. Homeowners were then stuck with mortgages they couldn't make. By 2011, homes were being auctioned off for quarter of their original price.

"Lots of homeowners were either stuck in their mortgages or they couldn't afford their mortgages. So, we had a lot of foreclosures in this neighborhood particularly," homeowner Crystal Thiriot said.

In one zip code in southern Nevada, 89031, Banks foreclosed on nearly 2,000 homes between 2008 and 2011. Rich cash investors were buying the houses. Regular homeowners could not afford the prices and could not compete.

Only a few homeowners made it out of the recession unscathed like Crystal Thiriot.

"We bought right before it all went up and now it's about where we purchased it at," Thiriot said.

She bought her home in 2003, surviving the Great Recession by signing a 15-year-mortgage and not relying on the property value.

Last year, construction workers were back on the job in her part of town.

Realtor Bryan Gwynn has noticed a lot more homeowners buying instead of investors.

"Over the last two years, I think, I sold five or six to homeowners, who were getting loans and 20 to 40 to investors or homeowners, who were paying cash only," Gwynn said.

He says more homeowners should lead to a balance of the current market.

"I think the equity part of this is making our market more stable, becoming more of a tradition real estate market," Gwynn said.

He sees the housing market making a slow, steady recovery and maybe the zip code of 89031 will no longer be infamous for its collapse during the recession.


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