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Report: 23 percent of mortgages were in negative equity in fourth quarter

CoreLogic report finds one in four homes were in negative equity in the fourth quarter of 2010.

CoreLogic report finds one in four homes were in negative equity in the fourth quarter of 2010.

As the fourth quarter came to a close last year, almost one in four homeowners were underwater on their mortgages, making it difficult for some to consider selling their homes and moving away.

That's according to a release from CoreLogic, an organization that provides financial information to businesses and government.

All told, the report indicates 11.1 million - or 23.1 percent - of all residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity at the end of the fourth quarter. That's up from 10.8 million, or 22.5 percent, in the third quarter.

"Negative equity holds millions of borrowers captive in their homes, unable to move or sell their properties," said Mark Fleming, chief economist with CoreLogic. "Until the high level of negative equity begins to recede, the housing and mortgage finance markets will remain very sluggish."

Arizona, Florida, Michigan and California were among the states with the highest negative equity percentage in the fourth quarter. Nevada had the highest rate of them all with 65 percent.

The Silver State was the recipient of some good news last month, however, as the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors found home sales increased in February. GLVAR's president said those numbers bode well for the rest of the year.