'Underwater' mortgages land Maple Heights on wrong end of national list

Nearly 67 percent of properties in Maple Heights are "seriously underwater" according to ATTOM Data Solutions. (Source: WOIO)
Nearly 67 percent of properties in Maple Heights are "seriously underwater" according to ATTOM Data Solutions. (Source: WOIO)

MAPLE HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - One northeast Ohio community has made a list that no town wants to be on.

Maple Heights is one of the top ten zip codes, where more than half the homes have underwater mortgages, according to a new study by ATTOM Data Solutions. Nearly 67 percent of properties are seriously underwater, meaning many homeowners in Maple Heights owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth.

A lot of families found themselves in this situation after the recession, and this data shows how much the suburb is still struggling.

Banners hanging in Maple Heights read "a winning city." But many homeowners don't feel that way anymore.

Cleveland 19 caught up with Alice Mitchell and her husband as they grilled their dinner outside in their backyard Tuesday evening.

"This was a brand new neighborhood, used to be beautiful. But as time goes, some people take care of their property and some don't," Mitchell said.

The Mitchells bought their house 25 years ago. Alice says it's worth a lot less now than the "For Sale" price listed back then.

"Less, definitely. You can look around and see all the vacant houses. You know a lot of people lost their homes, when factories shut down and stuff. It's no easier," she said.

Alice says many of her neighbors are still recovering from the recession.

"The American people, they're not getting any breaks. They're still losing jobs, it's not getting any better," she said.

Maple Heights came in at No. 10 in the country for zip codes with the most underwater properties. Cleveland 19 found about 55 percent of residents own their homes in the city, more than 30 percent rent and 14 percent of homes are vacant, according to homefacts.com.

Alice worries about the next generation of home buyers and how her neighborhood will hold up in the future.

"It's the American Dream to own your own home. You work and you work so at least you can get something on paper saying, 'This is mine.' But sometimes society don't make it easy for you to keep it," she said.

Out of the top 150 zip codes with underwater homes, Lorain and Euclid also made the list, as well as three zip codes in Akron and over a dozen in Cleveland.

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