For the first quarter of 2016, the number of seriously underwater properties in the U.S. fell to 6.7 million from 7.3 million in the first quarter of 2015. While this is progress, the RealtyTrac staff also takes a look at how only 3,622 (0.50 percent) of the 6,703,857 would qualify for principal loan forgiveness under a new mortgage modification program introduced in April by the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

RealtyTrac Senior Vice President Daren Blomquist explained how the program is tailored to reach a highly targeted group and how it would have to be redesigned to reach a broader one:

"To make a more serious dent in the 6.7 million seriously underwater loans, the program would need to be open to homeowners who are not seriously delinquent — given that 98 percent of all seriously underwater loans are not actively in the foreclosure process — or open to investors — given that non-owner occupied properties account for 59 percent of all seriously underwater homes.

Read more >