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I got some great e-mails about this story, the number of owners underwater in the local housing market. Lots of people asked how badly this bodes for the housing market.

Again, to be clear, there are a bunch of people who will be just fine even though they owe more on their mortgages than they could sell for if they listed today. Most people don’t have to subject their homes to the whims of this market. They can sit tight and pay their mortgage and wait for their home to start appreciating in value again.

But as more people face unemployment and our economy is on shaky ground, the stat bears mentioning and thinking about. This 29.4 percent of the region’s mortgage-holders is the share of folks who could add to the number of distressed sales very easily.

If they lose their jobs or get divorced or need to move or fall behind on payments, they’re potentially the next short sale on the block. If they decide the gap between their home’s value and what they owe is too large, and decide to walk away, they’re the next foreclosure on the block. And the cycle continues.

I’ve heard we’ll have another installment of that underwater data in the next month or so, for the quarter that ends at the end of this month. I’m sure you’ll be marking your calendar like I will.

Just so you know, I’ll be out of dodge and off the blog for a few days while I celebrate Christmas with my family in Canada.

Where I am, the housing stock is under frozen water — snow, and lots of it. You might find it surprising that snow for Victoria, British Columbia, is a bit like rain in San Diego. It’s fairly rare, and loved by a few people for a bit, but the infrastructure isn’t set up for it (snow plows and sanding trucks here, and drains in San Diego).

Victoria and Vancouver are about the only places in Canada that can’t count on having a white Christmas. Rainy holidays we can do, but any snow we get hits at random points in the winter or spring and sticks around for a day or two. This is the heaviest dump these Canucks have seen for a while.

Here’s a taste of what I’m talking about. This is the front yard at my parents’ house:

Anyway, happy holidays, Survival-ites. I’ll be making a list and checking it twice for all of the housing-nerdy and other economy and jobs stories we can put together in the New Year, along with your stories of Surviving in San Diego. So send me your ideas. You can always shoot me an e-mail at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org.


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