RUMSON, NJ--(Marketwire - April 15, 2010) -   Worried about your underwater mortgage? You've got plenty of company -- 24% of respondents to a recent Harris Interactive online poll say they believe their mortgages are underwater. Sometimes called negative equity, it all comes down to owing more on your mortgage than the current value of your home. And the historic increase in the number of underwater mortgages in the last two years has lead to a dramatic increase in the number of homeowners who practice strategic default by walking away from their homes.

How can you tell if your mortgage is underwater? And what should you do about it? 

Some simple math is needed to start. If you borrowed $100,000 to buy a house valued at $125,000, your LTV is 80%. If, three years later, your house is valued at $75,000 and your mortgage is still approximately $100,000, your LTV is 133%. Same loan, same house. That's underwater. ( offers a free online loan-to-value calculator.)

If you are faced with a high LTV, you have several choices.

  1. Wait until home values rise again. Millions of Americans are doing just that, and with a typical 30-year fixed mortgage -- with its long timeline -- that may make sense.

  2. Contact your mortgage lender directly to see if you are eligible for homeowner relief programs they sponsor.

  3. Determine whether you are eligible for government-sponsored homeowner relief programs, including the Home Affordable Modification Program ("HAMP"), or programs run by the FHA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. 

  4. Go to to determine your eligibility for the Responsible Homeowner Reward, which offers eligible borrowers a cash reward for staying current on their mortgage payments. 

"The good news is that mortgage owners and the government realize that there is a problem with underwater mortgages," says Jason MacRae of "As a result, homeowners who do their own research can make better decisions about one of the most important assets most of us will ever own."

The Responsible Homeowner Reward is a unique program which aims to give responsible homeowners an alternative to strategic default. By providing a cash reward for timely mortgage payments, the RH Reward gives back to homeowners who are working to live up to their mortgage obligations. is an operating unit of Loan Value Group LLC. For more information, go to

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