Most underwater homes are in Midwest & South

Home, auto, health and life insurance rate comparison platform (Insurance) has released a map of states and counties with the largest percentage of upside-down mortgages. The study, entitled Underwater or Upside-Down Mortgages: What You Need to Know, indicates that Louisiana has the highest percentage of underwater homes in the nation.

The methodology includes Insurance-commissioned quarterly surveys of counties with at least 2,500 properties with mortgages throughout 2020, according to publicly recorded mortgage and deed of trust data. Homes are considered seriously underwater if they have a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 125% or higher, meaning the owner owed at least 25% more than the estimated market value of the property.

While most of the housing market story has been about how much home values are booming, millions of properties nationwide have an upside-down mortgage, mostly in midwestern and southern states, which topped the charts in 2020.

“In difficult times, many homeowners face mortgage challenges, possibly through no fault of their own,” explained Michelle Megna, editorial director for Insurance. “Though the pandemic has caused many challenges, underwater mortgages existed before the pandemic; 4.5 million Americans were upside-down on their mortgages in 2018.”

Insurance combined 2020 data to create an interactive map that shows locations with the most and least underwater homes, including the percentages of seriously underwater homes.

A variety of factors cause homeowners to owe more than their home is worth, the report notes. Here are a few common causes:

  • Excessive cash out refinancing, or home equity borrowing reduce equity
  • Missed payments can compound, ultimately increasing the mortgage principal balance
  • Low down-payment loans take longer to build equity
  • Deteriorations in the local economy or neighborhood can lower property values.

Finally, there is no guarantee that a home purchased during a period of above average price growth, or bubble will appreciate as market conditions change and a sharp drop or burst in home prices can turn the mortgage upside down.

Megna advises homeowners to stay put and pay down the mortgage when possible. Before facing bankruptcy or foreclosure, the company states, they should speak to a lender about a short sale. Homeowners also should prevent property damages that affect the home insurance. “If a homeowner is upside-down, the insurance payout may not cover the full amount owed to the bank in the event of a major loss, such as fire or tornado,” the company stated in its recent announcement.

Habitat & Home Depot pledge $2M to affordable housing for vets

Habitat for Humanity International and The Home Depot Foundation have extended their long-standing affordable housing development partnership that already has served more than 1,400 U.S. military veterans and their families.

As part of the renewed partnership that dates back to 2011, The Home Depot Foundation will grant more than $2 million to Habitat’s Repair Corps program to build, repair or rehabilitate veteran homes.

In addition, The Home Depot Foundation is the premier sponsor of the 2021 Habitat on the Hill legislative conference, “an annual opportunity for Habitat homeowners, staff and advocates to meet with Congressional representatives in Washington and address the policies and systems that hinder access to safe and affordable housing,” according to a joint statement.

Since 2011, the Foundation has invested more than $350 million in veteran causes and improved more than 48,000 veteran homes and facilities in 4,500 cities. In 2018, the Foundation pledged an additional $250 million to veteran causes taking the total commitment to half a billion by 2025.

“The Home Depot Foundation has been a catalyst in ensuring decent, stable housing is available for some of our most vulnerable communities,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, their support helps more families to build stronger futures for themselves.

In addition to Repair Corps, The Home Depot’s associate volunteer force, known as Team Depot, helps provide hands-on support for projects facilitated by local Habitat organizations.

“Serving our communities in need is more important today than ever,” said Shannon Gerber, executive director of The Home Depot Foundation, “and we’re proud to partner with Habitat for Humanity to help ensure our nation’s veterans have a place to call home.”

Quontic hires Felix Todd as CTO

Quontic recently announced that Felix Todd joined the company as chief technology officer (CTO). The financial technology expert will focus on leveraging and advancing Quontic’s unique deposit approach and implementing critical data delivery for its cloud-based, proprietary system, Quontic.Works.

Todd most recently served in enterprise architecture and digital IT for over a decade at Regions Bank, one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services. He is an innovative change-maker “poised to reframe how banks approach the intersection between technology and banking,” the New York-based adaptive digital bank said in its welcoming statement.

Todd’s key priorities include Quontic.Works, designed to enable the bank to automate processes, connect through API’s with technology partners, and harness data. More specifically, he will focus on enhancing the IT capabilities of APIs and automation that minimize human intervention.

“Felix brings deep technology experience in the financial industry. We have listened to the needs of our employees and customers and brought Felix on board to help enhance the quality of our technology capabilities,” said Steven Schnall, CEO of Quontic. “One of Quontic’s core values is ‘Know the goal: Be intentional to understand what the needed outcome is’.”

That goal can be achieved using disruptive banking technology to improve customer experience, he added, “and continuing to add talented executives like Felix to our team.”

“Automation of processes is a key factor to the continued success and efficiency of Quontic in responding to the marketplace, and especially our valued customers in the CDFI space,” said Todd. “I’m looking forward to leading the charge to create seamless internal and external applications.”

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