More Greater Boston borrowers have equity in homes

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In another positive sign for the local housing market, about 50,000 fewer homeowners in the Boston area are “underwater” on their mortgages compared with the same time last year, data released this week show.

The number of underwater borrowers — those who owe more to lenders than their homes are worth — dropped to 129,671 in the first three months of 2013, down from 179,952 during the first quarter of 2012, according to Zillow Inc.

That means about 15.9 percent of borrowers were saddled with so-called negative equity during the first three months of 2013, compared with 22 percent last year, Zillow said. The company defines the Boston metropolitan area as Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Plymouth counties in Massachusetts, and two counties in southern New Hampshire.

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