Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun file
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 | 9:01 p.m.
The percentage of underwater homeowners in Las Vegas Valley fell last year as rising home values gave many people a financial lift.
But there’s ample room for improvement: Las Vegas is expected to stay the underwater capital of America for at least another year.
About 59 percent of local homeowners with mortgages were underwater — meaning their debt exceeded their home’s value — at the end of 2012, according to a report out today from Zillow.
That’s down from 70 percent a year earlier but still highest among the country’s 30 largest metro areas. Atlanta was second-highest at 49.5 percent.
The valley’s rate of underwater borrowers is expected to dip by year’s end to 56.7 percent, Zillow said. It’s a slight improvement, though Las Vegas would remain worst in the nation, followed again by Atlanta, at nearly 48 percent.
Nationally, 27.5 percent of borrowers were underwater as of Dec. 31, down from 31 percent a year earlier. It’s forecasted to inch down to 25.5 percent by the end of 2013.
Zillow attributed last year’s sliding national rate in part to the 5.9 percent increase in U.S. home values in 2012.
Southern Nevada’s median home value rose 14 percent last year to $129,100, according to Zillow.