With house prices on the rise, the number of homeowners who owe more than their house is worth has been steadily declining - good news because more people are able to sell their houses without taking a loss. In Minnesota, only 9 percent of all homeowners with a mortgage are still "seriously underwater," which means the debt on the property is exceeds the property's estimated market value by 25 percent higher, according to a first-quarter report from RealtyTrac. That's compared with 17 percent nationwide and much higher averages in Sunbelt states, including Las Vegas, where the negative equity rate was 37 percent.

The report also reveals a somewhat troubling and surprising trend: 35 percent of all homeowners nationwide who are in foreclosure have equity in their home, a slight increase from last year and the previous quarter. Minnesota tied with the Boston metro-area for the highest level of foreclosures, topping out at 58 percent. RealtyTrac's Darren Blomquist's speculates that foreclosure equity is on the rise because homeowners aren't aware that they have any equity at all, so fail to attempt selling the house before it's too late.  

“Many distressed homeowners with equity may not realize they have equity and in some cases have vacated the property already, assuming that foreclosure is inevitable,” he said.


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