Real estate:

Fewer Las Vegans are underwater, but rate still leads country

Home on 6820 San Ricardo Ave.

Las Vegas’ once-soaring rate of underwater homeowners has been cut in half but remains worst in the country, albeit by a hair.

Some 35.1 percent of valley homeowners with mortgages were upside down — meaning their debt outweighed their home’s value — in the quarter ending Dec. 31, according to a new report from Zillow.

That’s down from 59 percent a year earlier and a peak of 71 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

Las Vegas’ underwater rate was highest among the 35 metro areas listed in Zillow’s latest report, although Atlanta was a close second at 35 percent.

Nationally, 19.4 percent of homeowners are upside down.

The valley’s rising property values, spurred by investor appetite for cheap rental homes, has helped many people escape negative equity.

The median value of local homes last month was $168,800, up 26.9 percent from a year earlier, according to Zillow.

The year-to-year gain was second fastest among the metro areas covered in the report, with Riverside, Calif., No. 1 at 27.3 percent.

Nationally, home values rose 6.3 percent in the past year.

Real Estate