While mortgage performance in California is not substantially different than that of the U.S. as a whole, a closer look reveals dramatic differences among the state’s regions, according to a study by Fitch Ratings, announced Tuesday.

Fitch studied all securitized non-agency California mortgage loans.

“Delinquencies are highly correlated with the level of negative equity,” said managing director Roelof Slump. “Regions with the largest home price increases have also seen the most precipitous declines.”

On a statewide basis, statistics on delinquencies are not much different from the nation as a whole, Fitch found. But there were dramatic regional disparities.

Fitch found that California includes the best performing region in the country, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, and some of the worst, including Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, ranked at 367 of 382 regions in the country.

During the boom, home prices climbed at a higher percentage rate in Riverside than they did in San Francisco, and they have since fallen farther.

Fitch estimates that 90% of Riverside mortgages are now “underwater” and that almost 60% of borrowers owe more than 150% of the value of their home.

“Property value declines in California are having a dramatic effect on a borrower’s willingness to pay,” Slump said.

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