There’s been a resurgence of chatter about the plight of those who owe more on their mortgages than they could sell their homes for. I wanted to check on the latest number of people in that scenario locally.

• As of the end of March, 32 percent of all San Diego County homeowners with mortgages were upside-down, or owed more than their houses could sell for, according to first-quarter numbers from CoreLogic, a California-based mortgage data firm.

That translates to 190,992 residential properties with a mortgage in the county.

Another 4.4 percent are close to being underwater, according to CoreLogic.

The firm expects this measure to drop, according to a press release:

“As house prices grow again and borrowers pay down their mortgage debt negative equity levels will begin to diminish. The typical underwater borrower is likely to regain their lost equity over the next five to seven years,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist with CoreLogic.

• This was the third straight quarter in which the measure hovered around one-third. In the last quarter of 2009, 32.9 percent of all homes with a mortgage were underwater.

And in the previous quarter from that, the share of underwater borrowers was 32.5 percent.

• Here’s a recent 60 Minutes clip focusing on the new wave of “strategic defaults” or walking away. The clip features Carlsbad-based company You Walk Away. We’ve written about that company’s business of giving advice to homeowners deliberately going into foreclosure.

• Brent White is an associate professor of law at the University of Arizona is also featured in the clip. He came into prominence late last year for his paper called “Underwater and Not Walking Away,” which examines the social ramifications of walking away from your mortgage.

A couple of weeks ago, White passed his latest paper along to me, called “Take this House and Shove it: The Emotional Drivers of Strategic Default.” It was discussed here in the Wall Street Journal, which summed the paper’s arguments this way:

It turns out that many of the Americans defaulting on their mortgages are doing so out of anger, fear or despair rather than making a purely sensible decision about their best financial interests, a new study found.

What do you think? Has anything changed about the arguments for or against walking away? Check out the papers if you have a chance and leave a comment with your thoughts.


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