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Underwater mortgages falling by double digits in Central Pa.

The number of Central Pennsylvanians who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth fell by double digits over the last year, according to California-based CoreLogic.

The biggest drop was in the Harrisburg area, which saw a 17 percent decline in so-called underwater, or negative equity, mortgages in the second quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago.

In the second quarter, the Harrisburg area ha 5,658 homes with an underwater mortgage, down from 6,805 a year ago, according to CoreLogic.

The decline stems largely from rising home prices in an improving housing market, according to CoreLogic. Negative equity is often a result of a drop in home value, an increase in mortgage debt or a combination of the two.

In Lancaster County, the number of underwater mortgages dropped to 3,515 from 4,006 last year, a 12 percent decline.

In York-Hanover, there were 5,052, down 11 percent from 5,675 in the second quarter last year.

CoreLogic has projected that home prices nationally could rise by 5 percent in the coming year, which would lift 700,000 homeowners above water on their mortgages. 

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