Fewer home mortgages are under water as values stabilize

The percentage of Americans owning homes that are under water is falling, according to Zillow's third-quarter Real Estate Market Reports, which focus on 156 metropolitan areas. The other good news is that home values were relatively flat between the second and third quarters, so the price declines may be over for most homeowners.

Zillow found that 21% of homeowners with single-family homes were underwater on their mortgages at the end of the third quarter, down from 23% in the previous quarter. Two factors play into the drop. One is that many under water homeowners have already lost their homes to foreclosure. The second is that home values have stabilized in some areas of country and have even started going back up in other areas.