Robinson Crusoe might be able to relate to the plight of the modern homeowner. The sudden drop in housing values over the last few years has left millions of homeowners surrounded on all sides by a massive flood of negative equity.
Analytic and business intelligence corporation CoreLogic's negative equity report for 2011's first quarter found 10.9 million, or 22.7 percent, of homes underwater, compared to 11.1 million, or 23.1 percent, in the fourth quarter of 2010. If that drop in underwater mortgages seems odd with home prices still falling, that's where the really bad news comes in. The number of underwater homes has diminished mainly because so many homes have gone into foreclosure.
That negative equity maroons homeowners who are unable to pay off their previous mortgage through a sale. Despite having outgrown their living space due to a growing family or changing lifestyle, they've lost the freedom to hunt for a new home.
Those homeowners face a choice. Either they make the most out of their current living space or put their talent, muscle and money to work expanding it. While following these tips isn't likely to make castles out of condos, you'll be surprised at the amount of extra square footage available in your home.