About 1.7 million homes that were worth less than the mortgages on them regained equity as home prices rose in 2012, according to a report by CoreLogic.
This is certainly another sign that the housing market continues to improve. But remember, there are still 10.4 million homes underwater nationwide and more than 2 million homeowners with less than 5 percent equity, the report shows.
At least 1 in every 5 homes with a mortgage was upside-down at the end of the year, according to CoreLogic.
Certain states face a direr situation.
In Nevada, more than half of the homes with a mortgage are upside-down. In Florida, 42 percent of homes are worth less than what the homeowners owe on the mortgages, followed by Arizona with 38.6 percent, Georgia with 35.6 percent and Michigan at 32 percent.
"There is certainly more to do, but with fewer borrowers underwater, the fundamentals underpinning the housing market will continue to strengthen," Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic, said in a statement. "The trend toward more homeowners moving back into positive equity territory should continue in 2013."
What can you do if you are underwater?
Many homeowners with little or no equity try to minimize the financial damage by refinancing to lower their monthly payments through the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, a government-sponsored program that allows borrowers to refinance regardless of how underwater they are.
More than 1.1 million HARP refinances were completed in 2012, according to a recent report by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The program expires at the end of the year.
If you think you may benefit from a HARP refinance, this infographic can help you determine eligibility.
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