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SEATTLE-The national negative equity rate fell in the first quarter, to 25.4% of all homeowners with a mortgage, according to the first quarter Zillow Negative Equity Report. But another 18.2%, while not technically underwater, likely do not have enough equity to afford to move.Slightly more than 13 million homeowners with a mortgage were in negative equity, or underwater, at the end of the first quarter, owing more on their mortgage than their home is worth. But when including homeowners with less than 20% home equity, the “effective” negative equity rate at the end of the first quarter was 43.6%, or a total of 22.3 million homeowners. These homeowners likely cannot afford a down payment for a new home, tying them to their current homes and contributing to inventory shortages.A homeowner technically reaches positive equity as soon as the market value of their home exceeds their outstanding loan balance. But listing a home for sale and buying a new one generally requires equity of 20% or more to comfortably meet related costs.

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