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In South Florida, most home mortgages from housing boom are upside down

Though the South Florida housing market is showing faint signs of recovery as sales rise, homeowners are still sinking in mortgage debt that exceeds the value of their property which is a sign that more foreclosures may be on the horizon.

Roughly 71 percent of owners who bought in Miami-Dade and Broward counties in the past five years were "upside down" – meaning they owed more than their homes were worth – at the end of March, according to a report released Wednesday by the Web-based real estate services firm

Home prices in South Florida continue to tumble, making homes more affordable but pushing even relatively recent buyers underwater.

Homeowners who bought during the years of fastest price appreciation – between 2005 and 2007 – are facing the harshest reality: Median prices that have fallen by almost 50 percent in Miami-Dade and 41 percent in Broward, according to Realtor statistics.

Almost 88 percent who bought in 2006 are now underwater, with median negative equity of about $72,134. Median negative equity is the dollar amount at which half the homes were valued for less than the outstanding mortgage debt, and half for more.

That reality has extinguished Andres Duque's hope that he might recover some value from the one-bedroom condo conversion near Northeast Second Avenue and 55th Street he purchased in 2005 for $175,000.

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