Here's a ranking Atlanta wishes it didn't dominate. According to a study recently released by CoreLogic, the metro Atlanta area is third in the nation for the percentage of homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages (35%). This means they owe more on their home than it is now worth. This can be caused by a decrease in the home's value, and increase in mortgage debt, or a combination of the two.
Keep in mind this ranking is for the metropolitan area, not the city of Atlanta itself. The two metros ahead of Atlanta are Boise, ID (36%) and Greeley, CO (38%). The most underwater city in the nation is, unsurprisingly, Las Vegas (66%), followed by Stockton, CA (56%), and and Phoenix, AZ (55%). The nation as a whole has 10.9 million underwater residential properties, which amounts to 22.7% of our owner occupied housing stock. While this doesn't sound like good news, it is down from 23.1% in the fourth quarter of 2010. As that number decreases, a significant weight will be lifted on the recovery of the US housing market.
In August 2010, the federal government announced updates to a program offered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development intended to assist homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages. Homeowners can arrange a new FHA-insured mortgage if they meet certain qualifications. Among these, the borrower must be current on his/her existing mortgage, which must be non-FHA, and the lenders must agree to write off at least 10% of the unpaid principal of the first mortgage. Official guidelines can be found here.