SAN DIEGO -- Soaring prices are leaving fewer homeowners owing more money than their properties are worth, bringing them off the sidelines of the nation's surging housing market.
Real estate data firm CoreLogic Inc. says nearly 20 percent of the nation's mortgaged homes were underwater at the end of March. That's down from nearly 24 percent a year earlier and 25 percent during the same period of 2011. Gains spread across the country, though regions that rose high and crashed hard remained saddled with homeowners who bought near the peak.
Nevada has the highest percentage of homes underwater, followed by Florida. Among major metropolitan areas, Tampa Bay and Miami were highest.
The gains are welcome news for buyers who are frustrated by bidding wars over slim pickings. Inventories remain unusually low.